In every industry, every circumstance, and every state of mind, consent is important, even if you’re celebrating a massive World Cup win. On Sunday, after Spain defeated England in the Women’s World Cup final, a specific moment put that in centerstage after viewers were taken aback by an interaction between the team’s forward Jenni Hermoso and the president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales.
The moment, which was caught on camera and live-streamed all over the world, consisted of Rubiales kissing the athlete on the lips after she went up to the podium to grab her medal.
Right after the uncomfortable moment, Hermoso even spoke out about it in a live-stream from another player. Per Guardian, the player said she “didn’t like it.”
Not long after that, Hermoso went on to clear the air and put out a statement in defense of Rubiales. “It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” Hermoso said, per Guardian, in a statement to AFP by the Spanish federation. “The president and I have a great relationship, his behavior with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
Although we can agree that getting caught up in a moment can happen from time to time, we can’t ignore that it was far from okay, to begin with. And though Hermoso’s statement seems genuine, we can’t help but think Rubiales is in a high position of power who would do anything to make the situation go away.
Speaking of Rubiales, he too put out a statement on social media following the backlash. “I made a mistake, for sure,” Rubiales said in a video, per ESPN. “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.”
Rubiales continued, “Here we saw it as something natural and normal. But on the outside, it has caused a stir, 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.”
“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,” the president continued. “We have to give the merit to these women and the team led by Jorge Vilda, we have to celebrate it in style.”
On social media, fans of the Spanish soccer team and beyond are sparing no expense in condemning Rubiales. “The FA president does this on the biggest stage of the sport with royalty and officials near him, surrounded by cameras,” one user pointed out. “Very disturbing, and frankly, concerning.”
“For Luis Rubiales to do this to Jenni Hermoso during the proudest moment of her career, standing next to Spain’s royal family, and with the world’s media watching, makes me sick,” wrote another user. “The complete audacity.”
Safe to say we’re as outraged as they are.
Before you go, click here to see the celebrity women who are proud owners of sports teams.