The Spanish football federation president has apologised after an unsolicited kiss he planted on player Jenni Hermoso’s lips during celebrations of the country’s Women’s World Cup victory sparked outrage in Spain.
The incident happened as federation chief Luis Rubiales handed the Spanish players gold medals after they beat England 1-0 in the final on Sunday.
“Surely I was wrong, I have to admit,” Mr Rubiales said in a video statement sent by the federation.
“It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness.”
Hermoso told teammates afterwards in the locker room that she “didn’t like it”, according to video footage posted on Instagram and YouTube by El Mundo newspaper and other media outlets.
She later downplayed the incident in a statement sent by the federation to Spanish news agency EFE.
“It was a mutual gesture that was totally spontaneous prompted by the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” the statement said.
“The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has always been 10 (out of 10) and this was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
Post-game video footage also depicts Mr Rubiales kissing other players on the cheek or embracing them when handing out the medals.
Another video shared on social media shows him grabbing his genitals as he celebrates during the final game, standing near Spain’s Queen Letizia and her daughter Sofia.
Gender issues are a powerful topic in Spain.
The Socialist-led government has presided over a raft of legal reforms around gender change, abortion and sex work, but a loophole in its law around sexual consent let rapists out of jail.
It resulted in a significant electoral loss for acting Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero’s far-left Podemos Party, which is in the government coalition, in July’s election.