Spain hero Jenni Hermoso has addressed the kissing controversy that fired up social media at the end of her team’s thrilling FIFA Women’s World Cup victory over England.
During the celebrations, fans were taken aback as Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales gave Hermoso a strong kiss on the lips when the players took to the podium to be greeted by various dignitaries.
While it was plain to see the cultural differences between European officials and others after the game (the Europeans went for a kiss while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and others went for a polite handshake), football fans were still up in arms.
And the Rubiales kiss on Hermoso caught their attention, as did some of his post-match antics where he was seen kissing other Spanish players.
Hermoso addressed the drama in a live stream on Instagram, saying – with a laugh – “I didn’t like it”.
And later the the Spanish federation released comments from Hermoso, saying it was a “natural gesture of affection”.
“It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” Hermoso, said.
But other images of Rubiales have since emerged and his behaviour has come under fire.
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“Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso was not an isolated incident after full-time,” European journalist Colin Millar wrote.
“As the Spanish players celebrated on the pitch, Rubiales was pictured kissing match-winner Olga Carmona.
“Attempts to normalise this behaviour from the head of the FA is deeply unsettling.”
Millar also pointed out that under Spanish FA protocol, it stated that “forced kisses” were “unacceptable conduct with immediate consequences”.
But Rubiales defended himself on Spanish radio after the incident and strongly rejected the criticism.
He said it was just “two people showing each other a minor show of affection”.
“This idiocy should be ignored,” Rubiales said.
A video has since emerged of Rubiales entering the team’s dressing rooms with Hermoso by his side.
He tells the players that the federation will shout them a trip to the party island of Ibiza.
He also reportedly said that he would marry Hermoso on the Ibiza trip, sparking more celebratory moments from the players.
Fans, however, still believe Rubiales crossed the line.
“That guy has to go. Inexcusable behavior,” one fan said on social media.
While another said, attitudes towards women “still (had) a long way to go”.
“Rubiales needs to step down, and needs to face consequences. We all know he won’t though and that’s the problem,” the fan said.