The mother of Spanish soccer federation chief Luis Rubiales who faces backlash for his unsolicited kiss on player Jenni Hermoso on Monday locked herself inside a church and announced a hunger strike to protest her son’s “inhumane treatment”, EFE news agency reported.
Angeles Bejar said her strike would last “until a solution is found to the inhumane and bloody hunt they are carrying out against my son with something he does not deserve”, according to EFE.
Rubiales was suspended on Saturday by FIFA following his unsolicited kiss on the mouth of the national team star during the awards ceremony after Spain’s world cup win in Sydney.
According to EFE, Bejar stayed inside the parish church of Divina Pastora in Rubiales’ hometown in southern Spain, Motril, with her sister after the parish priest left.
She asked Hermoso to tell the truth and “stick to the version she gave at the beginning”, EFE added.
“There is no sexual abuse since there is consent on both sides, as the images prove,” Bejar told EFE as she questioned “why they’re taking it out on him” and what “is behind this whole story”.
“My son is incapable of hurting anyone,” Bejar said.
Rubiales, 46, has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her team mates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual.
At a federation meeting on Friday where he had been widely expected to step down, Rubiales instead refused to quit, seeking to defend his behaviour and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has issued a statement for him, saying Rubiales “will defend himself legally in the competent bodies” to prove “his complete innocence”.
Hermoso said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression”.
Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years. Tens of thousands of women have taken part in street marches protesting against sexual abuse and violence, and the Socialist-led coalition government has presided over legal reforms including around equal pay or abortion rights.