The head of the Spanish football federation has apologized after being criticized for kissing one of the players on the mouth after Spain’s first Women’s World Cup victory.
(Bloomberg) — The head of the Spanish football federation has apologized after being criticized for kissing one of the players on the mouth after Spain’s first Women’s World Cup victory.
During a celebration immediately after the final on Sunday in Sydney, Luis Rubiales kissed one of the star players, Jennifer Hermoso, as he held her head with his hands. Hermoso later said in a video posted by another footballer that she “did not enjoy that.”
She later clarified her remarks in a statement sent by the federation to the Spanish state agency EFE. She was quoted as saying “it was a mutual gesture, totally spontaneous because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings. The president and I have a great relationship, his behavior with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
The kiss, captured by cameras, started to overshadow the team’s performance at the World Cup and prompted a national conversation. It’s the latest in a series of controversies facing the federation after a number of star players boycotted the tournament after refusing to play for coach Jorge Vilda because of his management style.
After initially calling the episode a “nonsense,” Rubiales later backtracked and said he regrets the move in a video posted on Monday. “I need to apologize, and what’s more, learn from this, and understand that when you are president of an institution as important as the Federation, you have to be more careful,“ he said.
The country’s acting Equality Minister Irene Montero criticized Rubiales. “Let’s not assume that giving a kiss without consent is something that ‘happens,’ she wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “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.”
Spanish newspaper El Pais published an opinion piece on its front page Monday with the title, “Jenni didn’t like Rubiales kiss, neither did we.”
Rubiales said in the video he is sorry that this has “somewhat tarnished the celebration.”
Spain beat England to win its first ever Women’s World Cup in a historic victory in Sydney in front of a sellout 75,784 crowd at Stadium Australia.
The tournament has been under scrutiny over the salary gap between women players. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Friday that the world’s best female footballers can achieve pay equality if they “convince us men” first.
–With assistance from Ella Ceron.
(Updates with Rubiales quote in fifth paragraph.)
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