Ángeles Béjar, the mother of Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales, went on a hunger strike Monday to protest the drama surrounding her son after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso.
According to EFE, Béjar locked himself in the Divine Shepherdess – a church in Rubiales' hometown of Motril, Spain. She told the outlet she will continue the strike “indefinitely, day or night” until her son is rehabilitated, as Rubiales faces calls to resign from his post.
FIFA has suspended Rubiales for 90 days while they investigate the drama. Béjar described the consternation against Rubiales as “a bloodthirsty witch hunt”.
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“There is no sexual abuse as both sides are consensual as evidenced by the pictures… My son is incapable of harming anyone,” she said via ESPN.
Vanessa Ruiz Béjar, Rubiales' cousin, confirmed to Teledeporte that his mother was on strike. She said what happened to the family was “not fair”.
“He's been pre-judged and should be left alone,” Béjar told the outlet. “We want Jenni to tell the truth. Why did she change her story three times? Our family has been harassed. This woman should tell the truth. Jenni, you should tell the truth. We want Jenni to tell the truth.”
“The way they're dealing with him, the aggression, the feminists, the television, that strikes me as shameful. All people who take advantage of the situation, that is shameful.”
Rubiales kissed Hermoso as he celebrated Spain's win over England at the Women's World Cup last weekend. Rubiales accompanied La Roja onto the stage and greeted the members of the team. Rubiales was seen on stage putting his hands over Hermoso's head and kissing her. He patted her shoulder as she left the stage.
According to The Telegraph, Hermoso initially said she “didn't enjoy it.” She later told Cadena COPE the gesture was “not a big deal.” She also downplayed it in an interview with Spain's EFE.
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“It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the great joy of winning a World Cup,” she said. “The ‘President' and I have a great relationship. His behavior towards us was a '10'.” It was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude… We've won a World Cup and we won't let what's important take away from us.”
Rubiales declined calls to apologize for the kiss, but later admitted he made a “mistake”. He added that “we looked at it as something natural and normal,” and said he had to be “more careful.”
As the pressure mounted, Hermoso released a lengthy statement disavowing Rubiales and reaffirming her original stance that she “didn't like what happened”. She called the kiss non-consensual.
Rubiales has promised not to resign despite calls. He has received some support from federation officials but the Spanish side have promised to boycott future games if he's still in charge.
Jorge Vilda, the team's head coach, rebuked Rubiales at the weekend.
“The events that have happened since Spain won the Women's World Cup for the first time in its history and up to the present day are pure nonsense and have resulted in an unprecedented situation that tarnishes the well-deserved victory of our players and our country has.” “Vilda told Spanish EFE.
“I deeply regret that the victory of Spanish women's football has been marred by the inappropriate behavior of our previous top leader, Luis Rubiales, which he himself recognized.”
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“There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular.”