Spain prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against Luis Rubiales alleging sexual assault and coercion after he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent following the 2023 World Cup final.

The lawsuit against Rubiales, who also has been suspended as president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), was announced Friday, two days after Hermoso formally accused Rubiales of sexual assault. Under a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to four years if found guilty of sexual assault.

The new law eliminates the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault.” Any nonconsensual sexual act can be prosecuted.

Additionally, prosecutors are saying Rubiales may have committed an act of coercion when, according to Hermoso, he pressured her to speak in defense of him following criticism of his behavior.

While Rubiales has insisted that the kiss was consensual, Hermoso has maintained her denial of that claim in multiple statements issued by both her and her players’ union.

In addition to a possible criminal trial, Rubiales was suspended by FIFA for 90 days starting on Aug. 27 during an investigation into the incident. Additionally, the Spanish government could deem Rubiales unfit to hold the position of RFEF president for up to two years.

The U.S. women’s national team players have attracted criticism in recent years for their political activism. Some have urged them to “stick to soccer.”

For Midge Purce, who has played for the team on and off since 2017, the controversy surrounding Spain’s World Cup win – after which Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), kissed star player Jenni Hermoso on the lips – proves that refrain is off-base.

“When everyone was talking about the U.S. national team players, and how they’re not likable because they use their platform to speak on so many political issues, and basically (telling them to) stick to playing soccer — I think, in light of what we just witnessed on the World Cup stage, it just reiterates that there is not a space at the moment to just play soccer,” Purce said on “The 91st,” the Just Women’s Sports podcast she co-hosts alongside Katie Nolan.

Purce added: “You don’t think people just want to play soccer?”

Rubiales has since apologized for the incident, but he continues to face criticism. On Tuesday, Spain’s acting prime minster Pedro Sánchez said Rubiales’ apology “wasn’t sufficient.”

“Mr. Rubiales needs to continue to take steps to clarify what we all saw,” Sánchez said.

Purce also said Spain’s win should not count as proof that embattled head coach Jorge Vilda is the right fit for the team. Before the World Cup, 15 players wrote a letter to the RFEF criticizing his management style.

“I don’t really see this line of reasoning, which is, you win, you must stay. I think it prioritizes the values of society really, really poorly,” Purce said. “What a dangerous message to send to not just young women, but young men as well.”

In the 29th minute of the 2023 World Cup final, Olga Carmona scored on a left-footed shot to give Spain a 1-0 lead over England. It proved to be the decisive goal in the match, as neither team would score the rest of the way.

Carmona beamed afterwards, accepting her gold medal and celebrating with her teammates. Then she learned tragic news: Her father had died before the match. Her family waited until after the celebration to tell her.

“Yesterday was the best and worst day of my life,” Carmona wrote on X. “I know that you would want to see me enjoying this historic moment, so that’s why I’ll be with my teammates, so that from where you are you know that this star is also yours, dad.”

Carmona also scored the winner in Spain’s 2-1 victory over Sweden in the semifinal. With her goal against England, she became the first player since former USWNT captain Carli Lloyd to score in a World Cup semifinal and final.

A 23-year-old defender for Real Madrid, Carmona said her father gave her “the strength to achieve something unique.”

“And without knowing it, I had my Star before the game started,” Carmona wrote on X. “I know that you were watching me tonight and that you are proud of me. Rest in peace, dad.”

Spain’s win has not been without controversy. During the postgame celebration, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), kissed star Jenni Hermoso on the lips, sparking mass criticism.

But the program has rallied around Carmona in the wake of her emotional World Cup final.

“We love you, Olga,” the federation wrote on X. “You are part of the history of Spanish soccer.”

The U.S. Women’s National Team is in the market for a new head coach after Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation, and one name that has been floated as a replacement is Tony Gustavsson.

Tony Gustavsson, a former USWNT assistant under Jill Ellis, led Australia to the World Cup semifinal this year as the team captured the attention of the nation. Gustavsson, however, seems focused on helping the Matildas reach the next level.

“I don’t see this as an end of a journey. I see it as the beginning of a journey,” he said after Australia’s loss to Sweden in the third-place match. “But I also want to be very clear that I want to see investment now. I really do. I want to see investment and I mean like real investment that we’re serious about what we do.”

Gustavsson has attracted some criticism for his tactical decisions and substitution patterns. But among USWNT fans, after a lackluster run under Andonovski – the team came in third at the 2021 Summer Games and was eliminated in the Round of 16 of this year’s World Cup – Gustavsson is an appealing candidate. Even Ellis, who led the USWNT to back-to-back World Cups alongside Gustavsson, said Gustavsson should “definitely be a strong candidate” for the head job.

The timing might be tricky, however. Gustavsson is under contract with Football Australia until the end of Australia’s 2024 Olympics run. And, for now at least, the coach seems happy in his current situation.

“What I can say is I love working with this team,” Gustavsson said. “It resonates with me as a coach; their identity and their why.”

On Saturday, Sam Kerr and Australia had one more chance to capture medals in the first World Cup in the Southern Hemisphere.

But the Malitdas fell in the third-place game to Sweden, 2-0. Even in defeat, Kerr, considered by many the greatest striker in the world, found a silver lining.

“Although it’s disappointing, we’ll think back to this in a couple of weeks and be really proud of how we did,” Kerr told reporters after the contest.

Australia has co-hosted this World Cup along with New Zealand, and the Matildas’ run to the tournament semifinal has proved to be one of the most intoxicating storylines for fans. Kerr played sparingly early in the tournament, because of a calf injury, before finally starting her team’s semifinal match against England.

Kerr scored in the 63rd minute of that contest, tying the game at 1, but England scored twice in the final 20 minutes to win. The third-place match provided one last opportunity for the Matildas to end the tournament on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

Still, Kerr believes the run was a positive showcase for Australia.

“The way the fans have got behind us, the way girls have carried themselves, I think we’ve proven to the world we are a footballing nation,” Kerr said. “We couldn’t get it done tonight, but hopefully we’ve inspired people for many years to come.”

She added: “It’s sad that it’s come to an end. This has been the best four weeks of our careers.”

Alyssa Thompson’s first World Cup experience was far from glamorous.

The 18-year-old forward played just 17 minutes during the tournament, and when she wasn’t on the field, she worked through some difficult feelings.

“Throughout the tournament, there were some days when I was just sad,” Thompson said in an appearance on the RE-CAP Show. “I felt really lonely some days, too. I feel like it’s a lot, that tournament. Playing or not, there’s different things too.”

Thompson, picked No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft by Angel City FC, helped lead the Under-20 U.S. Women’s National Team to gold in the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship.

She was called up to the senior team in April to replace an injured Mallory Swanson, and then was named to the World Cup squad.

“People were still trying to, I feel like, get me up to speed a little bit,” Thompson said of the World Cup. “I wasn’t playing that much, so, also having that. I was like happy for game day. I wasn’t as nervous as most people. I was more excited. I felt a lot like a fan watching the games.”

Christen Press, one of the co-hosts of the RE-CAP show along with Tobin Heath, empathized with Thompson. She recalled the her first World Cup, in 2015, when she was pulled from the starting lineup in the group stage. The USWNT went on to win the tournament.

“I don’t think I started the rest of the tournament,” Press said. “The team did not really perform well, and then I was no longer playing, and the team started winning. I was dealing with the tension of not meeting my own expectation, and then the team winning.

“I cried through most of that tournament.”

Carli Lloyd did not play for the U.S. women’s national team during the 2023 World Cup – she retired in 2021 – but she has been one of the most talked-about figures of the tournament. Lloyd, now a Fox Sports analyst, has become the unofficial chief critic of her former team, and she has received some blowback because of it.

Lloyd, in an interview with The Athletic, defended her analysis and provided even more context on what she believes is wrong with the USWNT.

“I did speak the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts,” Lloyd said. “But it came from my heart. The world has caught up. I get that. But there’s no reason why we still can’t be at the top. But we have regressed so far down that there really is no gap. That’s what’s hard to swallow because the team has been built on legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation, and I simply didn’t like what I saw.”

The USWNT lost to Sweden in penalty kicks in the Round of 16, marking its earliest ever exit from the tournament. After winning back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019, with Lloyd one of the leaders, this year’s performance is likely to bring about change.

There is growing belief that coach Vlatko Andonovski will be dismissed in the near future. Lloyd, for what it’s worth, has hardly been shy about her lack of admiration for Andonovski. She played for him in the 2021 Tokyo Games, in which the USWNT took third place.

“I was at the tail end of what I saw was a regression with the team, which wasn’t good enough in Tokyo,” she said. “The team was disjointed, was not a unit, and the coaching was not what this team needed. So I saw this, I felt this, I experienced this. I wasn’t truly confident in this team winning the World Cup.”

Many of Lloyd’s former teammates expressed contrasting sentiments during the USWNT’s run. Abby Wambach, for instance, cautioned fans against falling into a “media trap.”

“This wasn’t anything that was scripted,” Lloyd said. “This was a reaction to what I was seeing, what I was feeling, what came from my heart. I poured my heart and soul into this team for 17 years.

Sweden’s World Cup heartbreak continued Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to Spain in the semifinals.

Late drama featured Spain going up 1-0 before Sweden managed to pull even a few minutes later. But Spain would not be denied, scoring in the 89th minute to seal the win.

In Women’s World Cup history, Sweden consistently has been among the best teams, but their fifth semifinal appearance ended in familiar fashion. The loss to Spain was their fourth in the semifinal round, which is the most among all World Cup teams.

Back-to-back World Cup semifinals, a Women’s Euro semifinal appearance last year and a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 tell the story of this Sweden team, which has always been good – just not good enough.

“I’m tired of crying big tournament tears,” vice-captain Kosovare Asllani said following the loss. “I don’t think people understand the energy and the passion that is behind this. It really sucks, we dreamed of a World Cup final.

“I’m so proud of this team, where we are today and how we have performed in this tournament. We deserved to be in the final, but that’s how football is.”

Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson expressed similar emotions after the loss.

“I have to watch the game, I really do, before I can make any assessments,” Gerhardsson said. “Right now I am full of emotions. It is the third loss in the semifinals. I think everyone just feels sadness and huge disappointment.”

Twenty-four years later, Brandi Chastain remains one of the faces of the Women’s World Cup.

In 1999, after scoring the deciding penalty kick to lift the United States Women’s National Team to victory in the World Cup final, Chastain ripped off her jersey in celebration, creating one of the most iconic images in the history of the tournament.

But Chastain was hardly compensated at an amount commensurate with her ability at the time. For her first World Cup championship, in 1991, Chastain was paid $500.

“None of us started playing soccer because we thought we were going to get paid,” Chastain said on the 91st with Midge Purce and Katie Nolan. “We started playing soccer, and we stuck with soccer, because it made us feel good. We found our friends, we found a place where we could express ourselves, where we could get dirty and compete like crazy.

“Getting on the national team was just an amazing byproduct of all the fun that I had when I was a kid and all the sacrifices my parents made, with their time and the little resources my family had, to be part of the great game.”

In May 2022, a group of current and former members of the USWNT settled a lawsuit with U.S. Soccer over equal pay. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay the group $24 million in what amounted to backpay, as well as a pledge to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s teams in all competitions in the teams’ next collective bargaining agreement.

“Getting my first World Cup championship check for $500, it looks pretty good where we are,” Chastain said.

England entered its quarterfinal matchup against Colombia on Saturday at a disadvantage: Midfielder Lauren James, its top player, was given a red card and suspended after stepping on a Nigerian player in the Round of 16.

The Lionesses then went down a goal when Colombian midfielder Leicy Santos scored in the 44th minute.

England, however, was hardly ready to lie down. Forward Lauren Hemp knotted the game at 1 late in the first half, before forward Alessia Russo scored the go-ahead goal in the 63th minute.

“I really believe the best is yet to come,” said England goalkeeper Mary Earps. “There is so much talent in this group, and so many more levels that we can go.”

England’s national team has been on the rise in recent years, after winning the 2022 UEFA European Women’s Championship. The Lionesses also advanced to the World Cup semifinal in 2019.

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s stunning exit in the Round of 16 has created a void at the top of the international field – the USWNT won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019 – and England could be primed to fill it.

The Lionesses’ road forward will hardly be easy, though. England will play host Australia, which is coming off an emotional penalty kicks victory over France, in a semifinal match on Wednesday. And James will be unavailable once again because of the Nigeria incident.

“It’s exciting,” Russo said. “You want to play against the best teams.”