MADRID (AP) — The mother of the Spanish soccer federation president has started a hunger strike in a church in southern Spain in defense of her son, who is under fire for kissing a player during the recent Women’s World Cup awards ceremony.
Ángeles Béjar, mother of suspended federation President Luis Rubiales, told the state news agency EFE she would remain on hunger strike “night and day” until a solution is found to “the bloody and inhumane hounding” of her son.
Speaking outside the church in the southern town of Motril, Rubiales’ cousin, Vanessa Ruiz, joined his mother in calling on the player, Jenni Hermoso, to “tell the truth.” She said the family was suffering greatly and she described Rubiales as “a beautiful person.”
Rubiales came in for a storm of criticism following the kiss which was interpreted by many as a form of sexual abuse. The incident happened during the medal ceremony after the final last Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
Earlier during the celebrations, Rubiales also grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture while in the presidential box and close to the queen of Spain and her teenage princess daughter.
FIFA, the world soccer body, provisionally suspended him on Saturday for 90 days after he gave a defiant speech and refused to resign.
Spain is hoping the country’s sports tribunal will remove him definitively.
On Saturday, Rubiales said that Hermoso had consented to the “mutual” kiss. Hermoso replied in two statements to say that was false and that she considered herself the victim of an abuse of power. She also accused the federation of trying to pressure her into supporting Rubiales. The federation hit back by saying she was lying and that it would take legal action against her.
The scandal has caused a commotion both in Spain and abroad.
Spain’s Prosecutor’s Office said Monday they will be in touch with the player to let her know she will have 15 days to contact the office so that they can inform her of rights should she wish to file a complaint as an alleged victim of sexual aggression.
Acting deputy PM Yolanda Díaz was meeting with football union representatives with a view to removing Rubiales and changing the way equality issues are run in Spanish soccer.
The Spanish soccer federation was to meet with regional federations about what steps to take following FIFA’s temporary suspension of their leader. Meanwhile, an anti-Rubiales protest was to be held later Monday in Madrid.
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