The head of Spain’s football federation has apologised after kissing a player on the lips following their Women’s World Cup victory.
Luis Rubiales faced a backlash for his behaviour towards Jennifer Hermoso, who later said she “did not enjoy” it.
The 45-year-old had also grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture, seemingly oblivious to 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia stood close by.
Following criticism from the Spanish government, Mr Rubiales acknowledged he had “surely made a mistake” while in “a moment of maximum effusiveness”.
In a video released on Monday, he said: “We saw it as something normal, natural and not in any way in bad faith. But outside it seems that a commotion has been created.
“When you are president of an institution as important as the federation, you have to be more careful.”
The controversy has overshadowed Spain’s 1-0 win over England.
Equality minister Irene Montero wrote on social media: “It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis, and which has been invisible so far, and which we should not normalise.”
In an Instagram video filmed in the dressing room after the incident, players were seen screaming and laughing while watching the kiss being replayed on a phone – with Hermoso exclaiming: “But I didn’t like it!”
Later in the evening, the country’s all-time record goalscorer told the AFP news agency: “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.”
Sky Sports News has contacted the Spanish FA for comment.
Hermoso started against England in the World Cup final in Sydney, but was denied the chance to get on the scoresheet after her penalty was stopped by Lioness keeper Mary Earps.
Spain are flying back to Madrid victorious after they clinched the Women’s World Cup for the first time ever – with Olga Carmona’s first-half goal proving too much for England.
The Lionesses have also begun their journey back to London, with footage online showing the team being clapped on to their plane at the airport.