What should have been a moment of pure jubilation for Spain as the country celebrated its first Women’s World Cup title, was overshadowed a bit by a moment that happened during the postmatch ceremony.
Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales planted a cringe-worthy kiss on the lips of team captain Jenni Hermoso during the ceremony, causing outrage.
The moment was captured by television cameras and beamed across the globe.
In an Instagram live video from the team celebration inside the locker room, Hermoso and her teammates learned that the moment was seen on TV and shrieked while watching it back.
She also said in the live video when asked about it by commenters: “Hey, but I didn’t like that!”
There was no indication that Hermoso and Rubiales were in a relationship.
In a statement given to AFP and reported by The Guardian, Hermosa called the moment a “natural gesture of affection.”
“It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” Hermoso is attributed as saying in a statement released 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.”
Rubiales downplayed the situation during an interview with Radio MARCA saying: “There are idiots everywhere. When two people have a minor show of affection, we can’t heed idiocy.”
The moment received plenty of outcry as fans angrily reacted to what they saw by Rubiales.
“The behaviour of Rubiales on that podium was absolutely grim. Highly highly inappropriate!” @GirlsontheBall wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“It’s sad to think that women’s football is not going to progress very far if men like Rubiales, [coach Jorge] Vilda, and [FIFA president Gianni] Infantino remain in powerful positions,” user @ccharlotte86 wrote on the platform.
Even Australian soccer legend Craig Foster decried what he saw.
“This is horrific. He should be stood down immediately by FIFA and the Spanish FA,” he wrote on X.