The president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, has come in for criticism after he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England in the World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday night.
The kiss – delivered on stage during the official post-match ceremony – was captured on camera and the vision prompted outrage on social media.
Hermoso said on a live stream afterwards she “did not enjoy that”.
In comments later provided to media she appeared to clarify her position, saying it 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 given 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.”
Rubiales reportedly told Radio Marca it was an “unimportant gesture of affection” and rejected suggestions it was inappropriate.
On social media, the Spanish TV presenter Claudya Carolina said Rubiales’ actions were “unpresentable” and “excessive”.
Video from the celebrations also shows Rubiales kissing other players on the cheeks and embracing them.
Spain’s triumph in the Women’s World Cup came despite a long period of instability.
Last year 15 players refused to play for coach Jorge Vilda, complaining of his tactics, training methods and style of management. Vilda said at the time of the boycott the accusations were “unjust” and the country’s football federation has maintained support of the coach. Three players have subsequently returned, and during this tournament Vilda has tried to steer attention away from the dispute and maintain focus on the football.
On an eventful evening, the federation also revealed the captain and goalscorer, Olga Carmona, only discovered her father had passed away after the match. When he died wasn’t disclosed.
“We send our most sincere hugs to Olga and her family in a moment of deep pain,” RFEF posted on social media. “We love you, Olga, you are the history of Spanish football.”