The Spanish football federation president apologised on Monday after kissing Jenni Hermoso’s lips during celebrations of the country’s Women’s World Cup victory sparked outrage in Spain.
The incident happened as federation chief Luis Rubiales handed the Spanish team gold medals after they beat England 1-0 in the final on Sunday.
“Surely I was wrong, I have to admit,” Rubiales said in a video statement sent by the federation. “It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness.”
Hermoso told teammates afterwards in the locker room that she “didn’t like it,” according to video footage posted on Instagram and YouTube by El Mundo newspaper and other media outlets.
She later downplayed the incident in a statement sent to Spanish news agency EFE by the federation.
“It was a mutual gesture that was totally spontaneous prompted by the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” the statement said. “The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has always been 10 (out of 10) and this was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
Post-game video footage also depicts Rubiales kissing other players on the cheek or embracing them when handing out the medals.
Asked again about the incident on Spain’s COPE Radio station, Hermoso said: “I wish they created (controversy) involving someone else, I’m a world champion and that’s what matters.”