Royal Spanish Football Federation / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The mother of Luis Rubiales has gone on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) president.
According to Spanish news agency EFE (via Alex Kirkland of ESPN FC), Ángeles Béjar has locked herself inside a church in Motril, Spain. She’s attempting to end the “inhuman, bloodthirsty witch hunt which my son is being subjected to.”
“There is no sexual abuse since there is consent on both sides, as the images prove,” Béjar said to EFE. “… My son is incapable of hurting anyone.”
As the Spain women’s national team was celebrating its Women’s World Cup victory, Rubiales placed his hands on the head of Jenni Hermoso and kissed the team captain on the lips.
SHE scores bangers @SHEscoresbanger
The concerning fact here is the nonchalant manner Rubiales behaves towards Hermoso. <br><br>The FA president does this on the biggest stage of the sport with royalty and officials near him, surrounded by cameras. <br><br>Very disturbing, and frankly, concerning. <a href=”https://t.co/Hh89dfWX4S”>pic.twitter.com/Hh89dfWX4S</a>
The moment was met with widespread condemnation and has sparked numerous displays of solidarity with Hermoso and the women’s national team. The federation’s treatment of the squad had already been a long-running storyline leading up to the World Cup.
Rubiales issued a video apology on Aug. 21 but seemed to downplay the gravity of the situation by qualifying he was apologizing “if there are people who felt hurt by this.”
The 46-year-old struck a much different tone days later when he said at a press conference he wasn’t resigning from his post. He also cited “false feminists” for the criticism he was receiving and claimed Hermoso had consented to their kiss on the World Cup podium.
Hermoso issued a lengthy statement refuting Rubiales’ account, and she alleged she has “been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr. Luis Rubiales’ actions.”
Members of the women’s national team have said they won’t represent the country as long as Rubiales remains in charge, and all but one member of the coaching staff has stepped down.
FIFA suspended Rubiales for 90 days pending an investigation, and the Spanish government has begun the process that could lead to his ouster from the RFEF.