Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales' mother has said she is willing to die to get ‘justice' for her son.
Retired hairdresser Angeles Bejar has now been on a hunger strike for more than 24 hours, which she began yesterday morning at a church in the Costa resort of Motril, near Malaga.
In a dramatic WhatsApp exchange, she told a Spanish TV channel from her religious retreat: “I will stay here as long as my body can take it.”
“I don't mind dying for justice because my son is a decent person and it's not fair what you're doing.”
Overnight, it was alleged that she snuck into the Divina Pastora church near her first floor apartment building by telling a cleaner she would say “a prayer” for Luis, who is currently facing criminal proceedings in his home country for a Kiss with player Jenni Hermoso following Spain's World The Women's Cup win over England in Australia just over a week ago.
Angeles, 72, is said to have used the moment the cleaning lady entered the church to mop the floor and dust the pews.
The high-spirited OAP picked her moment while the priest was away on holiday, a Spanish local claimed.
She stayed indoors with her sister-in-law Mari Carmen this morning and a doctor is expected to revisit later to check that Angeles is okay if she decides to go ahead with her extraordinary protest.
She is believed to drink liquids. There are reports of water and isotonic drinks in the church, prompting speculation that she may remain in the church for several more days.
The whereabouts of her son, who has been banned by FIFA for 90 days, is unknown.
He traveled to Motril on Saturday for a holiday despite city hall canceling a football match he was due to attend with friends at a municipal stadium for “security reasons”.
He is said to have met with some of his football buddies at a country house just outside of town on Saturday afternoon but has not been seen in public since he shocked the world last Friday by refusing to resign at an extraordinary general assembly of the Spanish Football Federation.
Maria Mora, a family friend, claimed Luis had trouble speaking to his mother.
“He's very worried, he's having a horrible day because he couldn't talk to her and he's horrible,” she said.
“He doesn't know what to do because to him his mother is the most important person in the world and she is in this church.
“He can't communicate with her or do anything with her.”
A mass is scheduled to be held at the church tonight and it's unclear if police will return to the church today to persuade Angeles to end their protest.
The priest is believed to have cut short his furlough but has so far declined to comment.
Motril's second-in-command police officer went to church yesterday and spoke to Angeles and the doctor who was treating her.
He said afterwards, “She's fine for her age.”
Prosecutors at Spain's Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid have launched a preliminary investigation into the post-World Cup kiss that rocked the world of football, claiming it was an abuse of power and a sexual assault.
They also offered Hermoso, who had insisted she didn't give Rubiales permission to kiss her, a chance to join a court case against the 46-year-old divorced father of three who claimed their kiss was consensual.
The regional leaders of the Spanish Football Federation called on Rubiales to step down at an emergency meeting in Madrid yesterday. Rubiales had apologized for grabbing his crotch in front of Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia at the same post-match celebrations in Sydney.
All 23 players in Spain's world-champion team have announced that they will not play any international matches as long as Rubiales remains at his post.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz yesterday commented on the row over the football boss's behavior and said it showed “the worst of Spanish society”.
Two of Rubiales' cousins were among those who showed up yesterday at the church where his mother is on hunger strike to defend him.
Vanesa Ruiz Bejar stressed: “There is a harassment campaign going on that is very unfair.
“Luis' mother, a very religious person, took refuge in God and went on a hunger strike.
“She doesn't want to leave the church. We all suffer a lot from what happened to Luis, which doesn't seem fair at all to us.
“He has already been convicted without a trial. It is not normal. We will not be left alone. The facts speak for them, there are videos, there are audio recordings.”
In a direct message to player Hermoso, she added, “Jenni, tell the truth.”
“Why did she change her version three times? We suffered a lot, we had to leave our homes because of the harassment we are subjected to.
“We don't want to be left alone to see justice done, and we want this woman to speak the truth. Jenni, tell the truth!
She said Angeles Bejar, Luis' mother, is in a very distressed condition, adding: “She is an elderly lady whose health is very fragile and who is suffering a lot.
“She keeps crying, can't sleep and won't eat.
“Whoever spends five minutes with Luis knows that he is a really good person with a big heart. He is a very noble man.”
When asked when Angeles' hunger strike would last until then, referring to Hermoso, she said, “Until this woman speaks up and tells the truth.” I'm not saying who's the bad guy and who's the good guy here, but I just want that Hermoso is telling the truth.”
Hermoso, 33, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, said in a statement regarding the kiss: “I would like to clarify that at no point did the conversation to which Mr Luis Rubiales is referring come up, and certainly not that his kiss was consensual.”
“Likewise, I would like to reiterate that what happened was not pleasant.
“I was shocked by the situation due to the context of the celebration and as time has passed and those initial feelings have subsided I feel the need to speak out as I feel that no one, in any workplace , Playing sports.” or social, should be victims of this period of inconsensual behavior.
“I felt vulnerable and the victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any consent on my part. In short, I wasn't respected.”
This story first appeared in The sun and has been republished with permission.