Ángeles Béjar, the mother of Spain’s soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, launched a hunger strike Monday in protest of the drama around her son after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso.
Béjar locked herself inside the Divine Shepherdess – a church in Rubiales’ hometown of Motril, Spain – according to EFE. She told the outlet she would continue the strike “indefinitely, day and night” until her son was vindicated as Rubiales faces calls to step down from his post.
FIFA suspended Rubiales for 90 days as it investigates the drama. Béjar described the consternation against Rubiales as a “bloodthirsty witch hunt.”
“There is no sexual abuse since there is consent on both sides, as the images prove… My son is incapable of hurting anyone,” she said, via ESPN.
Vanessa Ruiz Béjar, Rubiales’ cousin, confirmed to Teledeporte that his mother was on strike. She said what was happening to the family was “not fair.”
“He has been judged ahead of time and he should be left in peace.” Béjar told the outlet. “We want Jenni to tell the truth. Why has she changed 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 are treating with him, the aggression, the feminists, the television, it seems to me shameful. All the people who are taking advantage of the situation, it is shameful.”
Rubiales kissed Hermoso while celebrating Spain’s Women’s World Cup win over England last weekend. Rubiales joined La Roja on the stage and greeted members of the team. Rubiales was seen on the stage putting his hands over Hermoso’s head and giving her a kiss. He patted her on the back as she left the stage.
Hermoso initially said she “did not enjoy that,” according to The Telegraph. She later told Cadena COPE the gesture was “no big deal.” She also downplayed it in an interview with Spain’s EFE.
“It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” she said. “The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship. His behavior with us has been a ’10.’ It was a natural gesture, of affection and gratitude… We’ve won a World Cup, and we won’t get away from what’s important.”
Rubiales dismissed calls to apologize for the kiss but later admitted to making a “mistake.” He added that “we saw it as something natural and normal” and said he needed to be “more careful.”
As pressure ramped up, Hermoso released a lengthy statement disavowing Rubiales and reiterated her initial stance that she “did not like what happened.” She called the kiss nonconsensual.
Rubiales has vowed to not resign despite calls. He’s received some support from federation officials but the Spanish team has vowed to boycott future matches if he’s still in charge.
Jorge Vilda, the team’s head coach, rebuked Rubiales over the weekend.
“The events that have taken place since Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in its history and to this day have been a real nonsense and have generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a well-deserved victory for our players and our country,” Vilda told Spain’s EFE.
“I regret deeply that the victory of Spanish women’s football has been harmed by the inappropriate behavior that our until now top leader, Luis Rubiales, has carried out and that he himself has recognized.
“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.”
POST AUTHOR: Ryan Gaydos