[Al Jazeera] Luis Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has been slammed for kissing Spanish football player Jenni Hermoso during the FIFA Women’s World Cup post-match celebrations.
Spain beat the United Kingdom on Sunday, winning the title in Sydney, and Rubiales was one of the FIFA officials on stage, celebrating the team’s victory after they received their medals.
While he planted a kiss on the cheek of every other Spanish player after they received their gold medals, he kissed Spanish midfielder Hermoso on the lips.
The unexpected act triggered widespread backlash in Spain and around the world.
“Rubiales is a man with power over Hermoso who has decided unilaterally and in the middle of a stage to plant a kiss on the mouth of a player. It is part of that culture in which we are touchable and compliment-able,” said one post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Some described his act as “sexual abuse” and called on FIFA to step in and take action against Rubiales.
In an Instagram live, Hermoso expressed her discomfort over the incident. According to a post on X by Spanish journalist Irati Vida, Hermoso said: “Hey, I didn’t like it, eh.”
But according to local media reports, in a statement by the RFEF after Spain’s victory, Hermoso was quoted saying that the kiss was a “spontaneous mutual gesture”.
Videos and pictures on social media also showed Rubiales holding hands with other players and kissing Spanish footballer Olga Carmona on her cheek as she celebrated Spain’s victory over England.
Rubiales has defended his actions with Hermoso and told Spanish Radio Marca that it was “two people having a minor show of affection”.