Spain wins Women’s World Cup, celebration marred when soccer federation leader locks lips with player

A lengthy lip-lock was just one of the inappropriate actions that tarnished the trophy ceremony of the Women’s World Cup champions that left a Spanish striker saying, “Yeah, I did not enjoy that.”

In a matchup against England in the final, Spain’s La Roja became their nation’s first ever women’s champions in a 1-0 victory. However, the enthusiasm from Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales appeared to cross a line and, ultimately, led to an apology.

Footage from the trophy ceremony showed as the procession of players marched on stage to be congratulated from officials that included Rubiales. Each women was greeted with a hug, some more enthusiastically than others, and a kiss on the cheek until Jennifer Hermoso stood before him.

It was at that point that the man could be seen holding the player by the head as he kissed her directly on the mouth multiple times before sending her on her way, with a pat on her back.

“The concerning fact here is the nonchalant manner Rubiales behaves towards Hermoso,” the account for SHE scores bangers wrote on X. The FA president does this on the biggest stage of the sport with royalty and officials near him, surrounded by cameras. Very disturbing, and frankly, concerning.”

Other images of the president’s behavior around the team were shared that included moments when he was inside their locker room after the match where someone had inquired of Hermoso whether Rubiales had used his tongue.

“Yeah, I did not enjoy that,” she reportedly told The Telegraph.

However, she also said during an interview with Spain’s EFE “It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the huge joy of winning a World Cup. The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship. His behavior with us has been a ’10.’ It was a natural gesture, of affection and gratitude … We’ve won a World Cup, and we won’t get away from what’s important.”

Additional footage of Rubiales showed him cheering the team on as they were victorious with a celebratory crotch grab in the stands.

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Reacting to the incident Spanish officials offered their displeasure with Rubiales for his behavior around the team from which 15 players had signed a letter in September with complaints about their coach Jorge Vilda’s treatment of them.

Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero had posted on X, “Let’s not assume that giving a kiss without consent is something ‘that happens.’ It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis and until now invisible, and that we cannot normalize. It is the task of the whole society. Consent in the center. Only yes is yes.”

Similarly, Spanish Minister for Culture and Sport Miquel Iceta told an RNE broadcaster, “It seems unacceptable to me. We’re in a moment of equality, of rights and respect for women. We all have to be particularly careful in our attitudes and our actions. I think it’s unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.”

Following the incident, Rubiales released a video apologizing at length for which one translation read, “I made a mistake, for sure. I have to accept it. In a moment of such emotion, without any bad intention or bad faith, what happened, happened, in a very spontaneous way. [There was] no bad faith from either side.”

“Here we saw it as something natural and normal. But on the outside it has caused a stir,” he continued, “because people have felt hurt by it, so I have to apologize: there’s no alternative. I have to learn from this and understand that a president of an institution as important as the federation — above all in ceremonies and that kind of thing — should be more careful.”

Rubiales also said, “So, I want to apologize to those people…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.”

Others shared their own distaste for the president’s behavior with blanket condemnation.


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Kevin Haggerty


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