Spanish Football Association (FA) president Luis Rubiales has publicly apologized for his actions during the Women’s World Cup celebrations, which caused controversy and prompted calls for his resignation.
Rubiales faced criticism after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent following Spain’s victory over England in the final match held in Australia.
In a video address, Rubiales acknowledged his mistake and expressed regret for his behavior.
He began by celebrating the success of the Spanish team, calling it a historic achievement for Spanish football.
However, he also admitted to a lapse in judgment, explaining that the kiss had occurred in the heat of the moment without any malicious intent.
He emphasized that the gesture was spontaneous and without ill will, but he recognized that it had caused controversy and upset among some individuals.
He offered his apologies to those who were affected by his actions and acknowledged the need for him to exercise greater care during such events.
Rubiales defended his initial reaction to the criticism, where he dismissed those who criticized the kiss as “idiots.”
He clarified that within the Spanish FA, the incident had not been considered a significant issue, but he understood that it had been perceived differently by others.
He also expressed sadness that the historic victory had been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding his actions.
The controversy extended beyond the kiss, as footage emerged showing Rubiales making an obscene gesture and appearing to grab his crotch during the celebrations, which took place beside Spain’s Queen Letizia and her daughter.
Calls for his resignation intensified as various political figures and organizations criticized his behavior.
General Secretary of Sport for the regional Catalan government, Anna Caula, called the kiss a “harsh aggression” and stressed the importance of addressing unequal treatment in football.
Other politicians, including members of left-wing parties, demanded Rubiales’ resignation, labeling his behavior as sexist and unacceptable.
Jenni Hermoso, the player involved in the kiss, expressed her discomfort with the gesture during a live online stream from the dressing room.
She referred to the kiss as a “mutually and totally spontaneous gesture” but clarified that she hadn’t appreciated it.
Rubiales also faced allegations of inappropriate behavior during the celebrations, including an alleged obscene gesture and remarks about a fictitious wedding between him and Jenni Hermoso.
Rubiales’ public apology marks an attempt to address the controversy and salvage his position as the head of the Spanish FA.
The incident has sparked a broader conversation about gender equality and appropriate conduct in sports and public events.