The turmoil surrounding Spain’s victory in the 2023 World Cup does not appear to be dissipating any time soon.
During the trophy ceremony, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), kissed star Jenni Hermoso on the lips, inciting widespread backlash. Rubiales later apologized for the incident in a video released to the media.
Hermoso was asked by Rubiales to appear alongside him in the video, according to a Relevo report – and she declined. Spain coach Jorge Vilda also asked Hermoso’s family to convince the 33-year-old midfielder to appear in the video.
“I made a mistake, for sure,” Rubiales said in the video, alone. “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.”
Spain's Jenni Hermoso setting off the MEDAL detector at the airport 🏅😂(🎥 IG/JenniHermoso) pic.twitter.com/AGebdaqqR9— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 21, 2023
Spain's Jenni Hermoso setting off the MEDAL detector at the airport 🏅😂(🎥 IG/JenniHermoso) pic.twitter.com/AGebdaqqR9
While Hermoso later said in a statement that the kiss was “no big deal,” the Relevo report indicates that those words were written by RFEF’s communications department. In an Instagram Live video after the game, Hermoso said of the kiss, “I didn’t like it. But what could I do? Look at me.”
The star player also asked about the gesture on a Spanish radio program. “It is just a small thing,” she said. “If people want to blow it up, they will. For sure, I won’t be making more if it.”
The kiss has dominated the aftermath of what should be a celebratory time for Hermoso. She helped Spain claim its first World Cup title, punctuated with a 1-0 win over England in the final. Yet Hermoso has had to deal with Rubiales’ kiss and the corresponding commotion.
When Spain celebrated its victory with fans in Madrid on Monday, Hermoso walked onto stage, gold medal around her neck, and flashed a big grin, hugging local singer Dionisio Martin. Martin did not try to kiss her.