Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales apologized Monday following a controversial moment during the Women’s World Cup ceremony when he received backlash for kissing Jenni Hermoso.
Many cringed when they saw Rubiales kiss Hermoso on the lips, putting his hands over her head in the process while on stage during the trophy and medal ceremony. He also added fuel to the vitriol fire when he called critics “idiots.”
“I made a mistake, for sure,” Rubiales said about the kiss and his reaction, per ESPN.
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“I have to accept it. In a moment of such emotion, without any bad intention or bad faith, what happened, happened, in a very spontaneous way. [There was] no bad faith from either side.”
Hermoso said after the ceremony, “Yeah, I did not enjoy that,” per The Telegraph. However, she downplayed that comment later, telling Cadena COPE that the gesture from Rubiales was “no big deal.”
SPANISH FA PRESIDENT'S KISS ON JENNIFER HERMOSO AFTER WOMEN'S WORLD CUP VICTORY SPARKS CONTROVERSY
“It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” she said. “The ‘presi' and I have a great relationship. His behavior with us has been a '10.' It was a natural gesture, of affection and gratitude. … We've won a World Cup, and we won't get away from what's important.”
Rubiales said, “We saw it as something natural and normal.”
“But on the outside it has caused a stir, because people have felt hurt by it, so I have to apologize; there’s no alternative,” Rubiales explained. “I have to learn from this and understand that a president of an institution as important as the federation — above all in ceremonies and that kind of thing — should be more careful.”
Social media saw outrage over the situation.
“The concerning fact here is the nonchalant manner Rubiales behaves towards Hermoso,” one user on X posted. “The FA president does this on the biggest stage of the sport with royalty and officials near him, surrounded by cameras. Very disturbing, and frankly, concerning.”
The Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero also commented on social media.
“Let's not assume that giving a kiss without consent is something ‘that happens,’” she wrote. “It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis and until now invisible, and that we cannot normalize. It is the task of the whole society. Consent in the center. Only yes is yes.”
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Spain won its first-ever World Cup on Sunday, as they defeated England, 1-0, behind Olga Carmona’s 29th minute goal.