Alexia Putellas and Jenni Hermoso
Jenni Hermoso (R) and Alexia Putellas celebrate Spain's World Cup triumph in Sydney AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales has landed in hot water due to his behaviour during the awarding ceremony after Spain won the FIFA Women's World Cup title in Sydney on Sunday. In particular, he is being slammed for kissing the players as they passed by him, with one particular smack landing square on the lips of star forward Jenni Hermoso.

Rubiales was bursting with joy and exuberance as he congratulated the players one by one alongside the likes of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain and her daughter the Infanta Sofia.

After the special awards were given out and the England players were handed their silver medals, the Spanish players lined up and received their gold medals one by one from Infantino. Then they received warm hugs and congratulatory handshakes from the Queen and her daughter before they reached Rubiales.

The players were obviously ecstatic after having defeated England 1-0 just minutes before, and they were all very excited to lift the trophy. The players filed past Rubiales and a number of other VIPs before reaching the platform where they will collectively receive the coveted trophy.

Hermoso was not the only player that Rubiales kissed, with most of them receiving tight hugs and pecks on the cheek. However, the smack on Hermoso caught the attention of the worldwide audience because it landed smack on her lips after he grabbed both sides of her face.

The player initially said on Instagram that she "did not like it" but later issued a statement defending Rubiales. She called the kiss a "spontaneous mutual gesture" brought about by the immense joy of the victory. She added that she shares a good relationship with the RFEF president and that she considered the kiss to be a "gesture of affection and gratitude."

Rubiales initially brushed aside the criticism, saying that there was no internal issue between himself and the player. However, on Monday, he issued an apology saying: "I was completely wrong, I have to admit it."

Echoing what Hermoso said, he clarified that the kiss happened but "It was without bad intention at a time with a lot of excitement. In the moment, we saw it as natural, but outside a commotion has formed."

Nevertheless, he owned up to it and apologised. "I have to apologise, learn from this, and understand that when you are president you have to be more careful."

Millions of people from around the world watched the final live, and the same millions witnessed the incident take place during the ceremony. Social media has been bursting with outrage coming from all over the world, but there has also been criticism coming from Spain.

Equalities Minster Irene Montero said: "It's a form of sexual violence women suffer on a daily basis." Spanish Sports Minister Miquel Iceta was equally unimpressed, saying during a radio interview that Rubiales' behaviour was unacceptable and that "the first thing he has to do is to give explanations and make apologies, it is the logical and reasonable thing to do."

Hermoso, who is Spain's all-time leading top scorer, shared a live video on her Instagram from the dressing room after the ceremony. A man was heard asking her about the kiss, and she responded that she "did not like it" but laughed heartily after.

That was in the presence of all her teammates and Rubiales himself, who promised the team a holiday in Ibiza. He then joked that they would fly to the popular party island "to celebrate the wedding of Jenni and Luis Rubiales." The comment was generally met with laughter and cheers by the squad.

Apart from the kissing incident, Rubiales is also under fire for an obscene gesture on the stands. After the final whistle and the victory was confirmed, Rubiales was seen grabbing his genitals as he cheered in the stands beside Queen Letizia and other VIPs.

There have been calls for Rubiales to resign from his post, and it remains to be seen if anything will come out of the controversy. Meanwhile, the future of manager Jorge Vilda also hangs in the balance after he survived a player revolt last year. Fifteen players called for his resignation at the time, but after leading the team to World Cup glory, it seems unlikely that he will be asked to step down from his post.