The mother of Spain’s suspended football chief Luis Rubiales, who is under fire for planting an unsolicited kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso, went on hunger strike Monday in support of her son.
Angeles Bejar began her protest inside the Divina Pastora church in the southern seaside town of Motril, saying she would continue until Hermoso “tells the truth” about what happened, a family member told reporters outside of the church.
“There is a harassment that is not fair. His mother who has a deep faith, has found refuge in God, she has gone on hunger strike, she does not want to leave the church,” said Vanessa Ruiz Bejar, who is Rubiales’ cousin.
“What is happening does not seem fair, he has been condemned already. It does not seem normal… We want Jenni to tell the truth because she has changed her statement three times. His family is suffering greatly.”
Rubiales, 46, grew up in Motril and his father was the resort town’s former mayor.
FIFA suspended Rubiales on Saturday after he forcefully kissed Hermoso on the mouth after Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Australia on August 20, sparking an outcry.
Hermoso posted a video on Instagram showing the celebrations in the changing room in which she responded to teasing from team-mates about the kiss by saying: “I didn’t like it, eh!” while laughing.
A statement released by the federation later quoted her as saying that the kiss was “a natural gesture of affection and gratitude”.
But on Friday, Hermoso said “at no time” did she consent to the kiss following the 1-0 win in the final against England in Sydney, which Rubiales described as “mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
“I felt vulnerable and a victim of an assault, an impulsive macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part. Simply, I was not respected,” she added in a statement on social media.
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