The head of Spanish football apologizes for giving the Women’s World Cup champion an unwanted peck on the lips. President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales has acknowledged he “made a mistake” by giving Spain star Jennifer Hermoso an unwanted kiss on the lips after the team’s Women’s World Cup final victory over England on Sunday.
Rubiales has received widespread criticism for the incident, with politicians and journalists characterizing his conduct as “unacceptable” and “simply disgusting.”
The RFEF chief said in a video statement, “There is an event that I must regret, which is everything that transpired between the player and me, with a magnificent relationship between the two of us, as with the others.”
“Well, I certainly made an error; I must admit that. In a moment of joy, without ill intent, what occurred – I believe very spontaneously. I reiterate that there was no ill faith between the two of us.
“In this case, we did not comprehend it because we perceived it to be natural, normal, and in no way, I repeat, in ill faith. Outside of the bubble, however, it appears to have turned into a storm; therefore, if anyone has been offended, I apologize.”
Rubiales and other dignitaries, such as soccer’s global governing body president Gianni Infantino, Spain’s Queen Letizia, and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, attended FIFA’s awards ceremony following the final.
In the video, Rubiales embraces Hermoso, places both palms on her head, and then kisses her. As she departs, he pats her on the back.
“Hey, I didn’t like it,” Hermoso reportedly says in an Instagram live video regarding the incident, a segment of which was shared by Spanish journalist Irati Vida on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Later in the Instagram live video, which was captured in Spain’s locker room, Hermoso is asked by another woman, “But what were you doing, sis?” The 33-year-old man responds, “But what am I supposed to do?”
On the radio program ‘El Tiempo de Juego’ on Cadena COPE, Hermoso discussed the Sunday kiss, stating that “she didn’t anticipate it” but that “it was because of the emotion of the moment, there’s nothing else there. It will be a simple anecdote [of the period]. I am certain it will not be blasted up again.”
Rubiales responded to Radio Marca regarding the incident with Hermoso, “The kiss with Jenni? There are fools everywhere. When two individuals share an insignificant moment of affection, we cannot listen to their idiocy. We’re the champions, and I’m sticking to that.”
Rubiales acknowledged in his apology that he should “be more careful” when representing the RFEF as president at ceremonies and other significant events.
In addition, he elaborated on his “idiocy” remark by stating, “Within the sphere, no one gave it the slightest bit of importance, but outside, they have, right?
“Therefore, I wish to extend my apologies to these individuals, as I recognize that, even if the situation was perceived differently from the outside, they must have had their reasons,” he added.
Rubiales concluded by expressing his “hurt” that this incident has cast a shadow over the team’s victory, characterizing it as one of the country’s most significant sporting achievements.
“I believe that we must give all the credit to these women, to the team led by Jorge Vilda, and we must celebrate it as loudly as possible,” he said.
The Spanish political party SUMAR demanded Rubiales’ resignation on Monday, while Spain’s Minister of Culture and Sport, Miquel Iceta, told RTVE the kiss was “unacceptable.”
“I believe kissing an athlete on the lips to congratulate her is inappropriate. Based on my observations, it must be stated. Everyone deserves respect, said Iceta. He must first explain and demonstrate his rationale. I believe that is the rational and logical thing to do.”
After Spain’s triumph on Sunday, Alberto Ortega of the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial posted on X that “Rubiales kissing Jennifer Hermoso on the lips and taking the trophy from the players to give it to Queen Letizia is disgusting.”
Ortega added, “A new illustration of the need to hog the spotlight and be the protagonist when it is not his turn.”
Colin Millar, a British Daily Mirror journalist about European football, characterized Rubiales’ behavior as “unacceptable.”
Millar posted on X, “This is the pinnacle of a footballer’s career, and they are extremely emotionally charged.”
Rubiales did not only embrace Hermoso in the post-match celebrations; he also kissed several other Spanish players.
Video footage shows Rubiales caressing them on the cheeks and holding some of them in his arms after other members of Spain’s team received their medals.
Rubiales interrupts a group of Spanish players celebrating before kissing Olga Carmona on the face. Carmona scored the game-winning goal in Spain’s 1-0 victory over England.
Rubiales is pictured entering the dressing room and informing the Spanish players that the RFEF will pay for their trip to Ibiza, where he will marry Hermoso, in an Instagram Live video posted by Spain star Salma Paralluelo.