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26 August 2023

World Cup kiss: how the world's media has reacted to Spanish football president's 'own goal'

26 August 2023

The final whistle of the Women's World Cup 2023 was still ringing in the air when an unforeseen incident drew attention away from the thrills of football.

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales planted a kiss on the lips of Spanish forward Jenni Hermoso as the players collected their medals, sparking a wave of condemnation for 'inappropriate' behaviour.

Here, we look at how the world's media has reacted to events in Sydney a week ago.

The Spanish media has taken an emotionally charged approach towards the incident. Major dailies, such as Marca and AS, have deliberated it as an innocent, fatherly celebration of an unexpected victory. They explain how the tradition in Spanish culture allows for such expressions, stating that it is a form of 'beso' - a common and friendly greeting to family or friends. However, they also agree that such a gesture could be seen differently in other cultures.

In the United Kingdom, the narrative swayed in a slightly different direction. The Guardian and The Times emphasised the concerns over power dynamics within football authorities, stating that a more formal approach from the Federation President might have been more appropriate. They stopped short of calling the act wholly inappropriate but brought up the debates of consent and the necessity for professionalism in such high-stake situations.

Over in the North American media, however, strong criticisms have been lodged against the Spanish Football Federation President. Both CNN and Fox News were critical, referring to the incident as ‘misplaced affection' and 'unprofessional', considering the global live coverage of the event.

ESPN and Sports Illustrated have called on the Federation for official statements, highlighting the potential negative impact of such actions on female players and fans alike.

In the Asian media, notable outlets from Japan (The Asahi Shimbun) and South Korea (The Seoul Times), have taken a balanced approach, highlighting the differences in social-cultural norms while emphasising the necessity of respecting an individual's personal space in an international scenario.

Outlets in Australia and South Africa were among those calling for global standards in conduct within sport to be introduced.

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