After labelling as "idiotic" the critics who called him out kissing the player Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth during the World Cup victory celebration, Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has apologized. "I was probably wrong, I have to admit it, because in a moment of maximum effusiveness, what happened happened spontaneously, without bad faith on the part of either party," he said in a video posted on social media by the RFEF. Rubiales reiterated that within the team it was understood as something "natural and normal", but in the face of the controversy generated by public opinion he wanted to ask for forgiveness. "If there are people who felt offended, I have to apologize," he said.
Rubiales affimed that his relationship with Hermoso is "magnificent", just as with "other players" and reflected on the lesson he has learned from this controversy: "You have to bear in mind that when you are president of such an important institution as the RFEF is, then, especially in ceremonies you have to be more careful." Regarding the statements made to the radio network COPE in which he dismissed the importance of the kiss and accused those who criticized him of being "idiots and stupid", Rubiales justified himself by reiterating that in the context of the celebration "nobody thought that it was important". Finally, he said he was "afflicted" by the fact that this action "undermined the celebration" of the greatest success in the history of Spanish women's football. "Credit must be given to these women and the team led by Jorge Vilda, it is a historic event and we at the RFEF are proud," he concluded.
🇪🇦🙏 RUBIALES pide PERDÓN tras su beso a Jenni Hermoso:— El Chiringuito TV (@elchiringuitotv) August 21, 2023
😔 "Seguramente me he equivocado, lo tengo que reconocer".
🗨️ "Fue sin mala fe en un momento de máxima efusividad. Aquí lo veíamos natural, pero fuera se ha formado un revuelo". https://t.co/K2HHo0ZxJz
Hermoso speaks out on the controversy
Rubiales' kiss, when he held Hermoso by the head and kissed her hard on the lips, caused first surprise, and then outrage, and this Monday generated a debate about consent that has reached the institutions. Spain's acting equality minister, Irene Montero, stated on Sunday night that "kissing without consent is a form of sexual violence", and today, the acting culture minister, Miquel Iceta, described as "unacceptable" the action of the RFEF president and demanded explanations and apologies from him.
Shortly after the kiss, the player's first comment, which was seen in an Instagram live broadcast from the Spanish team's dressing room, was that she did not like it. Shortly afterwards, the football federation itself transmitted statements from Hermoso in which the player described the act as "a totally spontaneous mutual gesture", words similar to those later used by Rubiales to apologize. Later, in statements to the COPE, she repeated again that she had not liked the gesture, but assured that it had been a "moment of effusiveness" that would remain as "an anecdote". To downplay its importance, she wanted to focus on the victory: "We are champions with a star on our chest", in reference to the star which World Cup-winning teams add to their logos.
Rest in peace, papá
The Spanish women capped off their tournament with a 1-0 victory over England in the final to become World Champions. Tragically, the scorer of the Spanish goal, 23-year-old Olga Carmona, learned just after game that her father had died. Her mother, who was present at the match in Sydney, had decided to withhold the information from her so as to avoid affecting her concentration. Later, she sent a tweet in memoriam of her father: "And without knowing it I had my star before the game started. I know you gave me the strength to achieve something unique. I know you've been watching me tonight and that you're proud of me. Rest in peace, Papá".
Y sin saberlo tenía mi Estrella antes de que empezase el partido. Sé que me has dado la fuerza para conseguir algo único. Sé que me has estado viendo esta noche y que estás orgulloso de mí. Descansa en paz, papá 🌟❤️🩹 pic.twitter.com/Uby0mteZQ3— Olga Carmona (@7olgacarmona) August 20, 2023