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A kiss is just a kiss, except when it isn’t.
Spain’s head of soccer apologized Monday after trying to defend the cringeworthy kiss he placed on Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup ceremony on Sunday.
Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales received severe backlash after kissing Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s 1-0 win to clinch the country’s first Women’s World Cup title.
It didn’t help that Rubiales’ initial reaction to the criticism was to call those condemning him “idiots.”
In his video mea culpa Monday, Rubiales tried to walk it back by taking ownership for his blunder.
“I made a mistake, for sure,” Rubiales said in the video, according to 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.
“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.”
There was a loud uproar over the incident, which was captured by television cameras and broadcast around the globe, with social media flooded by commenters denouncing Rubiales’ actions.
On Monday, it went a step further thanks to Spain’s minister for culture and sport, Miquel Iceta.
“It seems unacceptable to me,” Iceta told broadcaster RNE, ESPN reported. “We’re in a moment of equality, of rights and respect for women. We all have to be particularly careful in our attitudes and our actions. I think it’s unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.”
Hermoso had tried to downplay the situation in a statement released by the Spanish football federation.
“It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” Hermoso said. “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.”
However, the statement was not shared by Hermoso on any of her social media platforms and in an Instagram live video, she told one commenter that “I didn’t like that!” when asked about the kiss from Rubiales.
The federation’s recent history with its women’s team has added to the already strong reaction to Rubiales’ actions.
The women’s team and the soccer federation have had a fraught relationship in recent years, which included a number of players writing a letter to the RFEF regarding concerns over coach Jorge Vilda’s professionalism.
So it didn’t exactly help when Rubiales initially tried to downplay his actions, telling Radio MARCA: “There are idiots everywhere. When two people have a minor show of affection, we can’t heed idiocy.”
On Monday, Rubiales was singing a different tune.
“There are also some things which I said where, within this context, I said it seemed like idiocy,” Rubiales said in his statement on Monday. “On the inside, nobody had seen it as important, but on the outside they had. So I want to apologize to those people. I’m sure they’ll have their reasons. 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.
“We have to give the merit to these women and the team led by Jorge Vilda, we have to celebrate it in style.”