The embrace between Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales, and Spanish team player Hermoso during a medal ceremony after their victory over England in the final has ignited a firestorm of debate. The incident took place in Sydney, leading to an outraged response in Spain and raising questions about the boundaries of professional conduct.
Rubiales distributed celebratory kisses to several players on the cheek or in an embrace, but it was his kiss on Hermoso’s lips that ignited the controversy. Federal Character News reported on the incident, highlighting the differing opinions on its nature.
Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez condemned the gesture as “unacceptable” during a news conference on Tuesday, asserting that the apologies from Rubiales were insufficient and inappropriate. This has sparked a broader conversation about the nature of consent, particularly given the recent introduction of stricter laws on sexual consent and harassment in the country.
Rubiales addressed the controversy in a video posted on social media, explaining that his gesture was borne out of excitement and genuine affection, with no ill intentions. He expressed regret and pledged to be more cautious in the future. Despite apologizing, he also called the backlash “idiotic” and emphasized his positive relationship with Hermoso.
Hermoso herself addressed the situation, both in an Instagram video and through a federation statement, asserting that the kiss was a spontaneous gesture of joy and gratitude. She downplayed any negative implications and affirmed the president’s positive conduct toward the team.
Video footage emerged of Rubiales celebrating in a manner that some found questionable, further intensifying the debate. Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz called for Rubiales’ resignation, while Equality Minister Irene Montero labeled the incident as a form of sexual violence, emphasizing the importance of consent.
Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, a self-proclaimed feminist, supported the women’s team and hailed the century as one of women’s advancement. Rubiales, who attended the team’s reception, faced a chilly reception from Sanchez, highlighting the tension surrounding the incident.
Kissing a player on the lips is not a trivial matter to be lightly apologized for. Even in the midst of victory euphoria, he should have exercised caution. The act of kissing a female player on the lips solely to celebrate a win raises concerns about potential sexual harassment. We concur with Sanchez’s viewpoint and believe that Rubiales should humbly apologize for his actions, setting aside any pride or defensiveness.
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Eriki Joan Ugunushe is a dedicated news writer and an aspiring entertainment and media lawyer. Currently in her penultimate year pursuing a degree in law at the University of Ibadan, she combines her legal acumen with a passion for writing to craft compelling news stories.Eriki's commitment to effective communication shines through her participation in the Jobberman soft skills training, where she honed her abilities to overcome communication barriers, embrace the email culture, and provide and receive constructive feedback. She has also nurtured her creativity skills, understanding how creativity fosters critical thinking—a valuable asset in both writing and law.