Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales has come under criticism for kissing World Cup-winning midfielder Jennifer Hersoso on the lips after the 33-year-old received her gold medal following the team’s Women’s World Cup final victory over England on Sunday.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President was on stage along with other special guests for FIFA’s awards ceremony following the final. Spanish Queen Letizia and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among the other guests present on the stage.
The viral video of the ceremony shows Rubiales hugging Hermoso, then putting both hands on her face before kissing her. He then pats her on the back as she walks away.
In an Instagram live video – a clip of which was shared by Spanish journalist Irati Vida on X, the Spanish player said: “Hey, I didn’t like it, eh,” while answering questions about the incident.
Hermoso spoke of the kiss on Sunday on the radio program ‘El Tiempo de Juego’ on Cadena COPE, saying “she didn’t expect it” but that “it was because of the emotion of the moment, there’s nothing more there. It’s just going to be an anecdote [of the time]. I’m sure it won’t be blown up more.”
She was asked about the incident by Radio Marca too, to which she replied: “The kiss with Jenni? There are idiots all over. When two people have a moment of affection without any importance, we can’t listen to idiocy. We’re champions and I stay with that.”
However, Alberto Ortega of the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial posted on X that, “Rubiales taking the trophy from the players to give it to Queen Leticia and kissing Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth is simply disgusting.”
“A new demonstration of the need to suck the camera [be the centre of attention] and be the protagonist when it is not his turn,” added Ortega.
Daily Mirror journalist Colin Millar, who writes about European soccer for the British newspaper, described Rubiales’ behaviour as “not ok.”
“This the highlight of a footballer’s career and they are highly emotionally charged,” posted Millar on X.
Hermoso wasn’t the only Spanish player kissed by Rubiales in the post-match celebrations.
After other members of Spain’s squad received their medals, the video shows Rubiales kissing them on the cheeks as well as holding some of them in his arms.
Another video clip shows Rubiales interrupting a group of Spanish players celebrating, before kissing Olga Carmona, who scored Spain’s winning goal in the 1-0 victory over England, on the cheek.
In footage posted by Spain star Salma Paralluelo in an Instagram Live, Rubiales is pictured entering the dressing room and telling the Spanish players that the RFEF will pay for a trip to Ibiza for them, and that is where he will marry Hermoso.
CNN has reached out to Hermoso’s agent about the incident and also the RFEF’s press officer in Australia for comment but hadn’t heard back at the time of publication.