Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales issued an apology after he forcibly kissed midfielder Jennifer Hermoso as the players collected their winners' medals following the Women's World Cup final on Sunday.
"There is something that I regret and it is everything that has happened between me and a player, with whom I have a magnificent relationship – just as I do with the other players" he said in a video on Monday. "This is an incident in which I have surely been wrong, I have to admit it because at a moment of maximum emotion and without any bad intention, and without any bad faith, what happened did so in a really spontaneous manner."
🙏 Rubiales se disculpa por el polémico beso a Jenni Hermoso— MARCA (@marca) August 21, 2023
🗣️ "Seguramente me he equivocado, fue un momento de máxima efusividad"
🗨 "Tengo que aprender de esto y que cuando uno es presidente de una institución tan importante como la Federación tiene que tener más cuidado" pic.twitter.com/wfuWN4ggEY
"Here (in the stadium) it was something natural, normal – so we did not understand the commotion," he continued. "There was no bad faith. Elsewhere, it seems that an uproar has occurred, of course, if there are people who have felt damaged by this I have to apologise, there is no other choice other than learning from this and understanding that when you are president of an institution as important as the Spanish Federation you have to be more careful in procedure and these type of issues."
Rubiales seemingly changed his position from Sunday, when he described criticism of his actions as "idiocy [that] should be ignored," while speaking to Radio Marca. The president also doubled down on the inappropriate behavior during post-match remarks in the locker room, where he said he would marry Hermoso in Ibiza.
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The federation also issued a statement it claims was on her behalf that described the incident as "a totally spontaneous and mutual gesture due to the immense joy that winning the World Cup gave us. The president and I have a great relationship, his behavior with everyone has been excellent and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude. We have won a World Cup and we are not going to lose sight of what is important."
Hermoso, though, briefly addressed the incident in her own words during an Instagram live after the match, saying, "Eh...yeah, I did not enjoy that."
Rubiales' inappropriate behavior comes amidst an ongoing protest against the federation and the women's team's coaching staff for a lack of professionalism and a toxic culture. Fifteen players refused to be called up to the national team in September 2022 as a result, and though eight eventually reversed course and three even made the World Cup roster, seven players continue to challenge the federation.