August 21 – Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales has prompted fury and a torrent of social media comment after kissing Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth during the Women’s World Cup final trophy presentation ceremony.
On Sunday, Spain won their maiden World Cup title, defeating European champions England 1-0 with an accomplished performance.
The victory prompted scenes of jubilation and tears from the triumphant Spanish players, but Rubiales, on stage during the post-match formalities, went a step further and planted a kiss on Hermoso’s lips, who later said that she did not enjoy Rubiales’s behaviour. The Barcelona striker told Spanish TV: “Eh…yeah, I did not enjoy that.”
Hermoso later said the moment was a “natural gesture of affection”.
“It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” said Hermoso, in comments passed to AFP by the Spanish federation. “The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.
“A gesture of friendship and gratitude cannot be gone over so much, we have won a World Cup and we are not going to deviate from what is important.”
Rubiales defended his actions as well on Spanish radio. He said: “The kiss with Jenni? Idiots are everywhere. When two people have an unimportant gesture of affection, we can’t listen to idiocy.”
The incident casts another shadow over Spain’s controversial journey to World Cup success, with constant antagonism raging in the background. A year before the finals players rebelled against the FA and the coach Jorge Vilda for below-par working conditions and a coach they did not consider up to scratch.
When Olga Carmona scored the 29th-minute winner, Spain’s reserves celebrated separately from the backroom staff in an image reflective of the strained relations in the team. On the eve of the final, when asked whether Spain’s team represented football anarchy, Vilda replied tersely: “Next question, please.”
“I’ve always said that if all the suffering was necessary to become world champions, it would be worth it,” said Vilda. “It’s been difficult at a personal level in management but at a sporting level we’ve achieved results that we’ve never achieved before.
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