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Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales faces calls to resign after he kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips at final

The president of the Spanish football association has come under fire for kissing one of the country’s players on the lips as she received her gold medal after the team’s win in the World Cup final.

“I didn’t like it, eh? What could I do?” said Jennifer Hermoso, Spain’s all-time record scorer, of the kiss planted on her by Luis Rubiales, when asked about it in an Instagram live following Spain’s 1-0 victory against England’s Lionesses in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.

The 33-year-old football star later added in a statement that it was a “totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings”.

“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,” she said, in comments given to AFP by the Spanish football federation.

“There’s no need to overanalyse a gesture of friendship and gratitude; we’ve won a World Cup, and we won’t stray from what’s important.”

The gesture sparked massive backlash on social media, with some people calling on Rubiales to step down over the incident. One user of X, formerly known as Twitter, said: “He has to go, this is absolutely disgusting.”

Spanish equality minister Irene Montero criticised Rubiales’s actions as she said that an unwanted kiss was a form of “sexual violence” which “cannot be normalised”.

Emphasising the importance of consent in any relationship, she said: “Only yes is yes.”

Craig Foster, an Australian former football player, echoed the calls for Rubiales to stand down, saying: “Women in sport are daily subject to an extreme power differential, objectification, harassment, sexual abuse and an absence of agency and power.

“This is horrific. He should be stood down immediately by ⁦@FIFAcom⁩ and the Spanish FA.”

Rubiales responded to the criticism saying: “There are idiots everywhere. When two people have an insignificant show of affection, we can’t pay attention to idiocy.

“We are champions and that is what I’ll take,” he told Radio Marca.

Rubiales has separately faced criticism for supporting Spain’s head coach Jorge Vilda after 15 players withdrew from the team citing concerns about the culture under his management.

i has approached Spain’s football federation for comment.

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