Bayern Munich board member and former CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has defended Luis Rubiales’ actions after the Spanish Football Federation president kissed women’s world champion Jenni Hermoso on the lips after her side’s victory over England on Sunday.
Rubiales was met with plenty of backlash after grabbing Hermoso’s head and kissing the 33-year-old as she and her team-mates accepted their winners’ medals and World Cup trophy.
Rummenigge believes the incident was an expression of Rubiales’ emotions after such an impressive performance and that it was “perfectly fine” given the situation he found himself in.
“I think you shouldn’t overdo it,” said Rummenigge, according to Sport1 at the Sport Bild Awards. “When you become world champion, you are emotional. And what he did there is – sorry, with all due respect – absolutely fine.”
Rummenigge added: “I can remember the last time we won the Champions League, I kissed men – not on the mouth, but out of joy. Emotionality is important in football, you should leave the church in the village.”
Another German world champion, Lothar Matthäus, took a similar view, saying: “You can kiss. These are emotions, love, passion, bliss. I have nothing against such pictures, even if it is the club president.
“Maybe you went a little too far. For me it’s not a discussion and it’s fine.”
Rubiales initially tried to defend his actions, labeling the people who called him an ‘idiot’ in an interview with Radio Marca as ‘idiots’. The Spanish Football Federation president claimed: ‘The kiss with Jenni? There are idiots everywhere. When two people show insignificant affection, we can’t bother with idiots. We are champions and I stand by that.”
Criticism of Rubiales continued to mount, however, and Spain’s Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, added to the debate by stating: “We shouldn’t assume that kissing a person without their consent is something that just happens.” It is one Form of sexual violence that women suffer regularly and invisibly and that we cannot normalize.”
Rubiales eventually released a video in which he reluctantly apologized for his actions and again blamed others for taking disproportionate advantage of the kiss.
“There is one thing that I regret and it was what happened between me and a player that I have a fantastic relationship with just like the others that I certainly made a mistake on.” I have to admit,” Rubiales said in his video address.
“In that moment of absolute jubilation, with no ill intentions or ill intentions, well… that’s what happened. I think it happened in a very spontaneous way and I repeat that there were no bad intentions on either side.
“From that point on, it wasn’t interpreted that way anymore, as we carried on as normal, naturally and also with no ill will between us. But other than that, it seems like it caused quite a stir as it appears to have caused some damage, so my apologies, that’s all I ask.”