The president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales has apologised to any “people who felt hurt” after he kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win.

Rubiales kissed the forward on stage during the presentation ceremony at Stadium Australia after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England.

The 45-year-old claims it was “normal, natural and not at all with any bad faith”.

Speaking in a video message, Rubiales said: “There’s also an event which I have to regret and it is everything that has happened between a player and I, with a magnificent connection between both people, just as with others.

“And where I surely made a mistake, I need to recognise it, because in a moment of maximum effusiveness, with no bad intention, with no bad faith, what happened happened — I think in a very spontaneous way. I repeat: with no bad faith from either of the two parties.

“From that point on, here they didn’t understand it because we saw it as something natural, normal and not at all — and I repeat — with any bad faith.

“But outside it seems as if it has caused a stir. Of course, if there are people who felt hurt by this, I need to apologise — there’s no alternative. And also learn from this and understand that a president of such an important institution as the federation has to — above all in ceremonies and in these types of questions — be more careful.

“Then there are some declarations on my part where, in this context, (I said) that this seems to me something stupid — it’s because of that. Because in here, nobody gave it any importance at all but outside they have. So I also want to apologise in front of those people because I understand that, if outside they saw it in a different way, they will surely have their reasons.

“And finally I am sorry that, after the biggest success of our history in women’s football and one of the biggest in general — it’s the second World Cup we’ve won — this has tarnished the celebration in a certain way. I think we have to give merit to these women, to the team led by Jorge Vilda and we have to celebrate this in style.”

When asked about the incident shortly after it occurred, Hermoso said on an Instagram live: “Yeah, I did not enjoy that.” The 33-year-old released a statement later that day via the RFEF, however, playing down the incident and saying she and Rubiales enjoy an “excellent relationship”.

The incident was widely condemned on social media, with Spain’s equalities minister Irene Montero and sports minister Miquel Iceta both voicing their criticism.

Montero wrote on Twitter: “Let’s not assume that giving a kiss without consent is something ‘that happens.’ It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis and until now invisible, and that we cannot normalise. It is the task of the whole society. Consent in the centre. Only yes is yes.”

Rubiales has been RFEF president since 2018. He frequently voiced his support for head coach Jorge Vilda after 15 players wrote to the RFEF last year asking not to be called up until changes were made to the national set-up.

Despite the dispute behind the scenes, Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history with victory over England thanks to Olga Carmona’s first-half goal.



The mixed emotions of Spain’s World Cup win amidst federation battle

(Photo: Maja Hitij -/FIFA via Getty Images)