Marred celebrations: the non-consensual kiss overshadowing Spain's World Cup triumph

Football federation president at center of scandal offers apology despite saying he views it as "normal"

A screenshot from the television broadcast of the non-consensual kiss from Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on Jenni Hermoso
A screenshot from the television broadcast of the non-consensual kiss from Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on Jenni Hermoso / Catalan News
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

August 22, 2023 11:42 AM

August 22, 2023 12:59 PM

Spain are World Cup champions, but the celebrations since then have been marred with controversy

Conversations since Sunday's triumph have not been centered on Aitana Bonmatí's masterful midfield control, Salma Paralluelo's ability to strike such fear into opposition defences, or Olga Carmona's wonderful winning goal, but rather the inappropriate post-match behavior of the president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales. 

During the ceremony, Rubiales was one of a number of people congratulating the players as they received their winners' medals. When it was Jenni Hermoso's turn, the official unexpectedly grabbed the player's head with both hands and kissed her directly on the lips. 

According to the federation's Protocol of Action against Sexual Violence, 'forcing a kiss' appears in point 4 of actions that constitute sexual violence. Luis Rubiales himself would be part of the three-person advisory committee that would make any formal decision on the act. 

In an Instagram Live recording in the dressing room after the game, Hermoso said to a colleague off-camera that she did not enjoy it, before adding "But what can I do?" 

The football federation hastily re

leased a statement on behalf of Hermoso saying that the kiss was a "totally spontaneous mutual gesture due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup." Hermoso hasn't shared the statement on her own social media accounts at the time of publication. 

From 'ignore the idiots' to apologizing

Later during the celebrations, Rubiales, speaking on Spanish radio, was defiant against any form of criticism of his behavior. 

"It's a kiss between two friends celebrating something, let's ignore the fools and the idiots. Let's ignore them and enjoy the good. If there are fools, let them continue with their nonsense. Let's pay attention to those who are not fools."

Yet, the next day, Rubiales offered an apology in the form of a video published by the football federation. 

In the apology video, Rubiales admits that he "does not understand" that people felt "hurt" by the kiss, that he views it as something "natural, normal, and with no bad intentions," but regardless felt the obligation to apologize as he "surely made a mistake."

He also apologized for his words given in the radio interview where he dubbed people's reactions to the event as "idiocy."

Crotch grab

The non-consensual kiss was not the only moment of controversy surrounding Rubiales' behavior at the final. 

The federation president has also received criticism from many for a crotch-grabbing gesture he made from the officials' box in the stands while celebrating. 

The official made the gesture while standing alongside the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, as well as the queen of Spain and the 16-year-old princess and heir to the throne. 

Sports minister: "Unacceptable"

The acting minister for culture and sports in Spain, Miquel Iceta, who was also present at the game and the celebrations, called Rubiales' actions "unacceptable," in comments given to Spanish radio in the aftermath. 

The Catalan politician described Rubiales' actions as "machista" ("sexist") and said that his resignation has been requested from the federation. 

Iceta explained that "we are sending a message to society of respect and equality," and that "a message should not be sent that a person in power can force a kiss."

Catalonia's equality minister, Tània Verge, posted the image of the kiss on twitter and called it a "graphic image of rape culture. Forcing the kiss and justifying it. Shameful and intolerable." 

The Catalan government has requested the resignation of Rubiales. Anna Caula, the general secretary of sport, considered the forced kiss a "harsh aggression," and underlined the need to "become aware that there are things that are not a price we have to pay."