Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales is facing criticism for giving Spain midfielder Jennifer Hermoso a surprise kiss on the lips after the 33-year-old received her gold medal following the team’s Women’s World Cup final victory over England on Sunday.
Rubiales was on stage for FIFA’s awards ceremony following the final, along with other dignitaries, including soccer’s world governing body president Gianni Infantino, Spain’s Queen Letizia and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Video shows Rubiales embracing Hermoso, then putting both hands on her head before kissing her. He then pats her on the back as she walks away.
“Hey, I didn’t like it, eh,” says Hermoso as she apparently answers questions about the incident in an Instagram live video – a clip of which was shared by Spanish journalist Irati Vida on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Later in the Instagram live video – taken in Spain’s locker room – Hermoso fields a question from another woman: “But what were you doing, sis?” The 33-year-old replies: “But what am I supposed to do?”
Asked by Radio Marca about the incident with Hermoso, Rubiales replied: “The kiss with Jenni? There are idiots all over. When two people have a moment of affection without any importance, we can’t listen to idiocy. We’re champions and I stay with that.”
However, Alberto Ortega of the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial posted on X that, “Rubiales taking the trophy from the players to give it to Queen Leticia and kissing Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth is simply disgusting.”
“A new demonstration of the need to suck the camera [be the center of attention] and be the protagonist when it is not his turn,” added Ortega.
Daily Mirror journalist Colin Millar, who writes about European soccer for the British newspaper, described Rubiales’ behavior as “not ok.”
“This the highlight of a footballer’s career and they are highly emotionally charged,” posted Millar on X.
Hermoso wasn’t the only Spanish player kissed by Rubiales in the post-match celebrations.
After other members of Spain’s squad received their medals, video shows Rubiales kissing them on the cheeks as well as holding some of them in his arms.
Another video clip shows Rubiales interrupting a group of Spanish players celebrating, before kissing Olga Carmona, who scored Spain’s winning goal in the 1-0 victory over England, on the cheek.
In footage posted by Spain star Salma Paralluelo in an Instagram Live, Rubiales is pictured entering the dressing room and telling the Spanish players that the RFEF will pay for a trip to Ibiza for them, and that is where he will marry Hermoso.
CNN has reached out to Hermoso’s agent about the incident and also the RFEF’s press officer in Australia for comment, but hadn’t heard back at the time of publication.