Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday criticized the apology made by the president of the Spanish Football Federation for kissing superstar Jenny Hermoso after Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory as “inadequate”.
FIFA president Luis Rubiales, 45, kissed Hermoso when he awarded the Spanish team their gold medals after beating England 1-0 in the final on Sunday in Sydney, angering Spain. Kiss other players on the cheek or hug them.
“What we saw was an unacceptable gesture,” the Socialist prime minister told a news conference when asked about the protest against the unwanted kiss.
“I also think the apologies made by Mr. Rubiales are insufficient. I think they are inappropriate, and he should go further,” added Sanchez, whose government has practiced stricter laws on sexual consent and harassment.
As the controversy surrounding the kiss escalated, Rubiales apologized Monday in a video posted to social media.
It was done without any ill intent in a moment of high abundance. Here we saw it normal and natural but outside of it it caused a disturbance.
“I have no choice but to apologize and learn from this… and when representing the federation extra care must be taken,” he said, adding that he believed the uproar was “foolish”.
Rubiales also confirmed that he has a “great relationship” with Hermoso.
– “Dislike” –
On Sunday, the 33-year-old posted a video to Instagram showing the celebrations in the changing room, in which she responded to her teammates’ jeers with: “I didn’t like it, eh!” while laughing.
She later downplayed the incident in a statement from the federation, saying it was “a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning the World Cup brings.”
She added, according to the federation’s statement, “The president and I have a great relationship. His behavior with all of us was remarkable and was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
Video footage circulated on the Internet after the match also showed Rubiales, who was sitting in the VIP area of the stadium near Spain’s Queen Letizia and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, holding his fingers as he celebrated the final whistle.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz called for Rubiales’ resignation, saying his “excuses are completely useless,” while Equality Minister Irene Montero said a non-consensual kiss was “a type of sexual violence that all women suffer daily.”
On the X social media platform, formerly called Twitter, Montero added, “It’s very simple. Two people kiss if they both want to, if there is consent. Yes just yes.”
– ‘A century of women’ –
Sanchez, who describes herself as a feminist, appointed a cabinet of a record 11 women to 17 cabinet positions when he took office in June 2018.
“The 21st century should be – and I am convinced it will be – the century of women on all fronts,” he said earlier on Tuesday at a reception for the winning Spanish team.
“I think women’s football, women’s sports, has a great future, all we can say as representatives of Spanish society is that Spain is proud of you, what you have achieved and what you have achieved.”
Rubiales was also at the reception and received a frosty greeting from Sanchez upon his arrival.
Spain’s World Cup preparations were thrown into disarray last September when 15 players emailed the RFEF saying they did not want to be considered for selection.
Their protest was mainly directed at coach Jorge Vilda and his methods, including complaints that he was too strict.
Rubiales supported Vilda and only three of the fifteen were called up for the World Cup.