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Spain’s ex-soccer boss Rubiales due in court in sex assault investigation

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Former Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales will appear before a High Court judge on Friday over a complaint of sexual assault stemming from his allegedly unsolicited kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso – an incident that has triggered a furore over sexism in Spanish sport and society.

The events of Aug. 20 eclipsed the national women team’s World Cup victory in Sydney and led to protests similar to the Me Too movement, prompting other women to come forward with reports of sexist treatment and assaults.

It also sent a shudder through the male-dominated ranks of Spain’s football establishment.

Rubiales, 46, has maintained that the kiss was mutual and consensual. After weeks of resisting calls for him to step down as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Rubiales, already suspended by FIFA, finally quit on Sept. 10.

But he remains unrepentant.

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“I am a good person, that in a moment of maximum happiness, with consent, asking beforehand…In truth, there can be no other intention than the celebration and the joy itself,” he told British television interviewer Piers Morgan on Sunday.

He likened the celebratory atmosphere in Sydney to winning a lottery or seeing a war ending, situations in which he said “people don’t ask permissions”.

Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz has called his actions “shameful” and said they showed that male chauvinsim was stil systemic in Spanish society.

On Sept. 8, prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil filed a complaint with the High Court against Rubiales after Hermoso told prosecutors that Rubiales kissed her on the mouth without her consent while holding her head with both hands at the medals ceremony.

The prosecutor added a possible crime of coercion after Hermoso said she and her relatives were put under pressure by Rubiales and his entourage to say that she “justified and approved what happened”.

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Judge Francisco de Jorge is in charge of an investigation that has to precede any formal charges under Spanish law, and will decide whether the case will go to trial. If it does, he could face between one and four years imprisonment.

De Jorge has ordered several media, including state broadcaster TVE, to send him footage of the incident and subsequent videos such as one of the players celebrating on a bus with Rubiales and referring to the kiss in what appeared to be a light-hearted manner. The investigation could take several months.

Friday’s hearing is behind closed doors.

The legal case will also be a public test of the leftist coalition government’s flagship “Solo si es si” (Only yes is yes) law that puts consent at the heart of sexual relations.

Many players, sports bodies and politicians have backed Hermoso in a campaign coalescing around the hashtag #SeAcabó (It’s Over) on social media, showing the nation’s increasing intolerance to abuse.

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Spain’s top 87 female players, including the 23 world champions, have refused to play for the national team until there are changes in the RFEF management line-up and style.

The RFEF has since sacked women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, appointing his assistant Montse Tome instead as the first woman at its helm.

Striker Olga Carmona said this week that the players were yet to determine if changes were enough for them to return to the team.

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

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Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

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The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

‘It shall be showers of goals’, vows Flamingos ahead of Liberia clash

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Head Coach Bankole Olowookere is confident that the Nigeria U17 girls, Flamingos, will not take their feet off the pedal when they take on their Liberian counterparts in a FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying match in Abuja on Friday.

“We are battle-ready for the match on Friday. The girls are raring to go because they want to go to the World Cup. They are already dreaming of flying to the Dominican Republic.

“There is so much excitement in camp, and they are self-assured. However, I have warned them that it is never over until it is over. There should be no display of over-confidence on the pitch. We must approach the match like the first leg was a drawn game.”

Nigeria won the first leg 4-1 in Monrovia on Sunday, with 11-goal qualifying series revelation Harmony Chidi, Shakirat Moshood, Peace Effiong and substitute Blessing Ifitezue banging in the goals for the Flamingos. The hosts got their consolation goal off a penalty awarded with five minutes left of the encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

The Flamingos will take part in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup for the seventh time once they cross Friday’s hurdle.

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They featured at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008, and subsequently at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Azerbaijan 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Jordan 2016 and India 2022, where they won the bronze medals.  

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Flamingos hammer hosts Liberia 4-1, put one leg in World Cup finals

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FIFA World Cup bronze medallists Nigeria routed Liberia 4-1 in a fast-paced FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying round, first leg encounter in Monrovia on Sunday.

The Flamingos got off to a pretty quick start at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at the Paynesville, but the Liberian girls, who shocked Senegal on the away-goal rule to reach this final round, warded off the early threats.

Nigeria got the ball into the net after 14 minutes, but Chadian referee Lare Lamngar ruled it off. Not to be deterred or discouraged, the Flamingos poured forward once again, and in the 19th minute, Shakirat Moshood opened the scoring from a sweet solo run.

Peace Effiong, who got a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium last month, scored in the 29th minute to put a wedge of respect between the two teams.

Usual suspect Harmony Chidi, scorer of six of the 12 goals that sank the Central African Republic, and who equally netted four in the 7-1 dismissal of Burkina Faso in the last round, headed home her 11th goal of the qualifying series in the 36th minute to put daylight between both teams.

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On resumption, Nigeria continued to dominate, and substitute Blessing Ifitezue made it four with 16 minutes left.

Liberia scored a consolation goal with five minutes left, from the penalty spot, through Yassah Gwaikolo, after substitute Onyedikachi Ekezie was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.

The Flamingos will return to Nigeria on Tuesday, and immediately commence preparations for the return leg encounter scheduled for Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

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