World Cup: Fan Apologizes to TV Reporter For Groping Her on Live TV

Deutsche Welle
Julieth Gonzalez Theran

“An unsuccessful joke turned into sexual harassment. I acted carelessly,” the Russia fan told Deutsche Welle sports reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran.

A Russia soccer fan who shocked viewers worldwide after kissing and groping a TV reporter during a live broadcast, has publicly apologized for his actions.

Julieth Gonzalez Theran, a sports journalist for Deutsche Welle's Spanish-language service, was reporting live from Moscow on the opening day of the World Cup when a man ran up, kissed her on the cheek — and seemingly grabbed her breast. A video of the incident, posted on Twitter by Deutsche Welle shortly after the incident, went viral and sparked an online backlash.

Now the man in question has reached out to Gonzalez Theran to apologize. In a Skype interview, Ruslan, who declined to give his last name, offered the journalist his "most profound apologies” and said he hoped she “will never face another such incident in (her) career."

His voice breaking, Ruslan called what had happened a “misunderstanding” and insists the incident had been "misinterpreted.” He says he bet his friends he could kiss a reporter live on air and had never intended to grope Gonzalez Theran.

"I thought I put my hands on her shoulders, but apparently I missed a little and touched her chest with my left hand. I would not have believed it myself, but having looked at the video I realize that it looked ambiguous from the side," he explained.

Ruslan said he did not pick Gonzalez Theran for  her "gender, age, nationality — or for the channel. She just happened to be nearby."

Gonzalez Theran, who garnered praise for her professionalism during the incident — she continued with her live report as if nothing had happened — accepted Ruslan's apology and said she appreciated him reaching out. But, she noted, “what happened was unacceptable and disrespectful ... (but) I refuse to be a victim, I just want to continue with my job, reporting about football ... I just want to close this chapter and I wish you the best."