Madrid, Aug 21 (EFE).- The president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales apologized Monday for kissing striker Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain had won the Fifa Women’s World Cup final.
Video footage of the post-match trophy presentation showed RFEF boss Rubiales kissing Hermoso after Spain’s 1-0 win over England in Sydney on Sunday.
“I did not like it,” the player said in the locker room via Instagram. She later said in a statement released by the federation that it was “a gesture of friendship and gratitude”, something “totally spontaneous due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup”.
On Monday Rubiales, who had initially justified the act as a “kiss between two friends celebrating” and called people who disapproved “idiots and stupid people”, issued a video statement via the RFEF in which he acknowledged that he had “made a mistake.”
“I have to admit it, because in a moment of maximum effusiveness, without any bad intentions or bad faith, what happened happened, in a spontaneous way, without any bad faith from either of the two parties,” Rubiales said.
“We saw it as something natural, normal, and not at all in bad faith. But outside, there seems to have been a commotion. Of course, if there are people who have been hurt by this, I have to apologize,” he added.
The footage, which went viral on Sunday night, has led to condemnation from leading Spanish politicians, with Equality Minister Irene Montero saying on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Rubiales’ behavior was “a form of sexual violence.”
“Let’s not take for granted that giving a kiss without consent is something ‘that happens’,” Montero said.
In statements to Spanish national radio RNE, the acting Minister of Sport, Miquel Iceta, said the RFEF president’s actions were “unacceptable”.
The RFEF’s protocol of action against sexual violence establishes that physical contact such as “attracting with the arm with the attempt to kiss” or “kissing by force” should be considered “situations, attitudes and behaviors associated with sexual violence”.
“These behaviors are unacceptable and will entail immediate consequences,” the protocol states, which does not detail what these measures are or how it is determined if the action has been committed “by force”.
In Spain there have been verdicts that have defined a kiss on the mouth as a sexual assault, even without violence, if there was no consent.
María del Prado Escoda, of the Spanish association of Judges for Democracy, told EFE that because Rubiales is in a position of professional authority over Hermoso, “it is not only sexual violence, it is also violence and abuse of power.” EFE