Spanish soccer head apologises for kissing player after World Cup win


The head of the Spanish Football Federation apologised Monday for kissing a soccer player on the lips after her team won the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, provoking near-immediate condemnation from fellow soccer players and social media users alike, in the latest affront in a sport that has seen multiple sexual misconduct allegations in recent years.

The president of Spain’s Football Federation was criticized for his inappropriate behavior after celebrating Spain’s 1-0 win over England in Sunday’s final.

Catherine Ivill/Getty

Key Takeaways
  • Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation, apologised for the kiss in a video posted Monday, translated by AFP, saying he needed to “take more care” when representing the federation but also saying that he thought the outrage over the incident was “idiotic.”
  • Rubiales—who kissed Spanish soccer player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips as he held her head with both hands after her team won the World Cup on Sunday—said he made a “mistake” and that it was done “without any intention in a moment of the highest exuberance.”
  • Much of the outrage that has ensued online has focused on the lack of apparent consent; while Rubiales did not comment specifically on consent, he did say he viewed the kiss as “natural and normal.”
  • During the soccer match, Rubiales was also seen grabbing and thrusting his crotch, though his apology did not mention those actions.
Crucial Quote

“I’m also saddened, because this is the biggest success in our history in women’s football, the second World Cup that we’ve won, and this has affected the celebration,” Rubiales said in the video, according to an ESPN translation.


The immediate backlash was made more fierce after a video posted on Instagram showed Hermoso saying she “did not enjoy” the kiss. The video showed Spain’s soccer players screaming and laughing while watching a video of the kiss on someone’s phone. Later on Sunday, the Spanish Football Federation released a statement on Hermoso’s behalf in what appeared to be an attempt to mum the ongoing conversation about the incident. “It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup,” Hermoso said in the federation’s statement, according to the Associated Press. “The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been excellent, and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”

Chief Critic

Despite Hermoso downplaying the incident, condemnation of Rubiales’ behaviour continued. The world players’ union, FIFPRO, said the kiss was “deeply lamentable” in a statement to the AP. Spanish officials were also stern in their condemnation. Acting Minister for Sports and Culture Miquel Iceta told public broadcaster RNE, “it is unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.” The Spanish government’s Equality Minister Irene Montero described the incident as “a form of sexual violence,” which she said continues to be invisible and normalized. Montero also noted that sexual assaults are not defined by “the great or little intensity of the violence or intimidation with which they are exercised, but by the absence of consent.”

Key Background

Spain is not the first team the Women’s World Cup teams to deal with issues of sexual misconduct in recent years. A few weeks ago, Zambia’s coach, Bruce Mwape, was accused of rubbing his hands over the chest of one of his players days before the team’s late July match. Before these allegations emerged, the Guardian reported Mwape was under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Haitian Football Federation President Yves Jean-Bart was banned from the sport for life after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse found that he had “abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors.”

This article was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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