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Man who groped Colombian reporter on air at World Cup apologizes

The man who groped a female reporter on camera on the opening day of the 2018 World Cup last week has apologized for his unseemly behavior.

Colombian reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran was on assignment in Saransk, Russia last week, working for the Spanish-language arm of German TV outlet Deutsche Welle. She was on the air doing a live shot in a city square when a bearded man wearing a backward baseball cap burst into the frame, grabbed her breast and roughly planted a kiss on her cheek.

Julieth Gonzalez Theran, a reporter covering the World Cup for a German news station, was groped and kissed on the cheek during a live broadcast in Russia last week. (Twitter/DW_Espanol)

Now the man in the video reached out to the station Theran was working for to apologize for his behavior.

In a Skype call with the station, the man who identified himself as “Ruslan,” without giving a last name, claimed the incident had been “misinterpreted.”

He offered the reporter “the most profound apologies,” adding that he hoped she “will never face another such incident in [her] career.”

He claimed his assault on Theran was the result of a bet he’d made with his friends that he could kiss a reporter live on the air.

“I thought I put my hands on her shoulders, but apparently I missed a little and touched her chest with my left hand,” he told DW. “I would not have believed it myself, but looking at the video I realized that it looked ambiguous from the side.”

He went on to explain that he didn’t choose Theran for her “gender, age, nationality — or for the channel. She just happened to be nearby.”

The man followed up his conversation with the TV station with another Skype call with Theran in which he apologized directly to the reporter. Theran, who was on assignment in the Russian city of Kazan when she took the call, told the man that although she accepted his apology, “what happened was unacceptable and disrespectful.”

“I refuse to be a victim, I just want to continue with my job, reporting about football,” she added. “I just want to close this chapter and I wish you the best.”

While the man’s initial excuse for his reprehensible behavior — a bet with his buddies that he could kiss a reporter live on air — comes across as somewhat lame, he seems to have at least grasped the gravity of his behavior in the wake of the incident going viral.

“I imagined that my sister could have been in her place — or my mother — I wouldn’t have liked that,” he said.

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