Luis Rubiales has faced criticism from a number of quarters after he kissed footballer Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s recent victory at the Women’s World Cup, shocking the player as well as viewers the world over.
Jenni, 33, has said that she did not consent to the kiss. In a statement released by the Spanish football federation (RFEF), she said: ‘I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president.’
In response, Luis Rubiales, 46, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, apologised and 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.’ He has said he will not be resigning over the matter.
Despite his apology, he has faced criticism, with one expert saying Luis ‘forcibly kissed’ Jenni, ‘effectively restraining her so that she had nowhere to go’, and adding that it was ‘not a simple peck’.
Here, FEMAIL speaks to experts who examined the kiss, and describes the different types of kissing, and in which situations they are appropriate.
Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (pictured, right) kisses Spanish forward Jenni Hermoso (pictured, left) who says the kiss was non consensual
While Rubiales (pictured) has apologised for the kiss, and defended his actions, a number of people – including Jenni Hermoso (pictured) have criticieed the move
Discussing Luis Rubiales’ response to the furore, Dr Becky Spelman, Psychologist and Founder at Private Therapy Clinic, told FEMAIL: ‘In a recent speech, [he] said that Jenni Hermoso had “lifted him up in celebration” and he asked her for “a little kiss?”, so we can presume his intention was to deliver a “celebratory peck”.
‘There has been significant backlash following this decision, and Hermoso has since said that she did not consent to being kissed by Rubiales.’
Speaking further about consent, relationship and sex expert Rhian Kivits added that Luis Rubiales ‘forcibly kissed’ Jenni Hermoso, on the lips and without consent.
She added: ‘These two individuals are professionals in a public arena – not in a close friendship, family unit or romantic relationship whereby kisses would usually be mutually exchanged.’
Rhian added that it was ‘an inappropriate kiss’, and that it caused distress to the Spanish forward. She continued: ‘Rubiales held the back of [Jenni] Hermoso’s head in a lock as he kissed her, effectively restraining her so that she had nowhere to go.’
According to Rhian, with regards to this type of behaviour, we ‘must look at the impact, not the intention’.
She said: ‘It doesn’t matter whether Rubiales acted spontaneously or out of excitement and joy. It doesn’t matter whether his intention was to celebrate rather than cause offence or what kind of kiss he chose to impose upon Hermoso. The bottom line is that the recipient of this particular kiss was in a position where her boundary was violated and Rubiales was out of line.’
So what kind of kiss was it? The experts outlined a number of different kisses, explaining why Rubiales’ act did not fall under these definitions.
Peck on the lips
One common type of kiss is a ‘peck on the lips’, a type of kiss common among potential romantic partners who are getting to know each other
Was the kiss a ‘peck on the lips’? According to a number of experts, it did not fall under this definition.
According to Aliyah Moore, relationship expert & certified sex rherapist at SexualAlpha, described the kiss as ‘clearly an impromptu act by Rubiales’, noting it was ‘not reciprocated by Hermoso’.
She told FEMAIL: ‘The kiss was certainly not a simple “peck,” as it carried with it implications of dominance and violation of personal boundaries.
‘It was neither celebratory nor congratulatory in the traditional sense. Instead, it was an unsolicited act of crossing personal boundaries without prior consent, a clear violation of personal space.’
She added that while Rubiales may have intended the act to be a ‘celebratory or congratulatory kiss’, the overwhelmingly negative perception emphasises ‘the need for awareness and understanding of personal boundaries and respect’.
Aliyah explained: ‘It can best be labeled as an “Invasive Kiss”. An “Invasive Kiss” stands out as one that infringes upon an individual’s personal boundaries without their explicit consent.”
She added that her interpretation of this type of gesture isn’t as a ‘genuine expression of affection or camaraderie, but rather as a problematic overstep, often rooted in an imbalance of power or an uncalibrated understanding of interpersonal dynamics’.
Aliyah continued: ‘Unlike mutual exchanges which are based on shared feelings and mutual respect, an invasive kiss feels intrusive. It can often leave the recipient feeling vulnerable, disrespected, and even violated.’
In the larger context of interpersonal relationships, Aliyah said, such actions ‘underscore the vital importance of mutual respect, understanding, and most importantly, consent’.
‘To truly honour and respect another person’s boundaries is foundational in any healthy relationship, be it professional, personal, or romantic,’ she said
Dating and Relationship coach Kate Mansfield commented on the kiss between Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso, which she said was a ‘lip kiss’.
She told FEMAIL: ‘The word cup kiss was a lip kiss, I think he was over excited and didn’t really think it through, but it seemed that it was definitely intended as a lip kiss and that’s where it landed.
‘The problem with this kiss is it that it revealed a lack of consent and appropriate boundaries that runs deep in our culture and society.
‘He really got this wrong and it is shocking to see how he is now trying to justify his mistake, it’s a great opportunity for the world to start addressing this age old problem of consent around physical and sexual behaviour.’
Kate believes that anything other than an ‘air kiss’ should be given to another person with their prior consent, ‘especially a kiss on the lips,’ she added.
Relationship and sex expert Rhian Kivits said that a peck on the lips is usually ‘swift and quite light’.
She says that this type of kiss may happen between potential partners who are getting to know each other.
However she adds that a kiss on the lips could even be a more ‘platonic, more playful kiss.’
A kiss on the cheek
A quick kiss of the cheek is a common form of greeting in a number of countries. In a relationship, it can signify affection and fondness between partners
Tina Wilson, relationship Expert and founder of the Wingman app, told FEMAIL that if you or your partner exchange kisses on the cheek, it indicates affection and fondness between you.
She said: ‘A kiss or peck on the cheek also signifies intimacy and a romantic connection, particularly if you’ve been in a long-term relationship.
‘In many cultures, a kiss on the cheek is a common form of greeting to say ‘hello’ so it depends on where you are in the world.’
In Spain, one kiss on each cheek is common, but usually people kiss on both cheeks, according to the Conde Nast Traveler.
When FEMAIL previously spoke to Australian dating coach Debbie Rivers of Dare 2 Date, she gave some insight into what a peck on the cheek actually means.
The dating expert says that this kiss is more about friendship than passion.
‘It can be more of a going through the motions type of action, than about being connected and in the moment,’ she explained.
However Debbie says that the meaning can be different if it forms a trail of kisses.
While forehead kisses can show trust and mutual value in a relationship. they can also be a warning that your partner may be controling, some believe
A kiss on the forehead is an intimate gesture that conveys a sense of security and protection between two people, according to Tina.
‘If you or your partner prefer to give or receive forehead kisses, it shows trust and mutual value in the relationship,’ she adds.
But Tina says a forehead kiss could be a warning sign that your partner may be asserting control, depending on other dynamics in your relationship.
‘It can sometimes be a warning sign that your partner may be subconsciously asserting control, as the gesture implies over-protection and can overpower the other person in a submissive manner,’ Tina added.
Dating coach Debbie says that this type of kiss is intimate, genuine, shows connection, and not something you can fake
Dating and Relationship Coach Kate Mansfield says that a French kiss, which is also known as a deep kiss or tongue kiss, is often associated with romantic and sexual intimacy between partners.
Kate says: ‘It’s a passionate and intimate form of kissing where two individuals use their tongues to explore each other’s mouths.
‘This type of kiss involves open mouths and a gentle intertwining or touching of tongues.’
When FEMAIL previously spoke to Australian dating coach Debbie Rivers of Dare 2 Date, she said: ‘It’s about not being able to keep your hands off the person, and wanting to be as close as possible to them.’
Debbie says that this type of kiss is intimate, genuine, shows connection, and not something you can fake.
As ever, it is important to remember that any form of physical intimacy should always be consensual and mutually desired by all parties involved.
Neck kisses signify sexual attraction, according to one expert, who said these kisses are often thought of as erotic and passionate
When someone kisses your neck, it is a clear sign of sexual attraction in the relationship.
‘This is a very intimate kind of kiss, that is often thought of as erotic and passionate.
‘The neck is a very sensitive erogenous zone and receiving a kiss there can send shivers down your spine,’ says Rhian.
She adds that when someone kisses your neck, they are likely to be showing you that they want things to go further.
There are also erogenous zones on the nape of the neck, meaning that you can be become aroused if it is kissed.
Tina says that a neck kiss is ‘playful and sensual, often with sexual undertones, making it a common part of foreplay for many couples.’
But the relationship expert added that neck kisses signify a deeper desire to connect on a more emotional level.
‘As the neck is a vulnerable and intimate area, it’s associated with trust and affection between loving partners,’ she said.
A kiss on the hands
Kissing someone on the hand is very gentlemanly, according to one expert, who described the move as ‘almost princely’
According to Tina, a kiss on the hands is a gentleman’s greeting to a female love interest, ‘done in a formal, almost princely manner.’ It can be seen as chivalrous and old-fashioned, often associated with showing respect and admiration
If your partner kisses you on the hand, it could mean they hold you in high regard and see you as being a long-term relationship prospect. However, according to Tina Wilson, it could also spell trouble on the horizon, as ‘it’s often done to avoid eye contact and maintain distance – possibly suggesting that someone else is receiving their affection’.
As with all kisses, before kissing someone on the hand it is important to ensure the move is welcome. Tina explained: ‘Obtaining consent for a kiss is essential. It emphasises mutual agreement and respect in intimate moments, acting as the foundation for healthy relationships.
‘Consent safeguards comfort and willingness, preventing misunderstandings, discomfort, and harm. Prioritise seeking and respecting your partner’s explicit consent before any intimate act to nurture trust, communication, and a safer, more respectful connection.’
And it is also important to note that the practice of kissing someone’s hand may be less common or may hold different cultural interpretations in some regions or societies. You should, as ever, consider the cultural norms and the individual’s comfort level before kissing someone on the hand.