The controversy surrounding embattled Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales took a bizarre turn on Monday when his mother locked herself in a church and started a hunger strike.
(Bloomberg) — The controversy surrounding embattled Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales took a bizarre turn on Monday when his mother locked herself in a church and started a hunger strike.
After Rubiales became the target of international condemnation for refusing to resign over kissing a player on the lips while celebrating victory in the Women’s World Cup, his mother took the dramatic decision to protest in his support.
Angeles Bejar vowed to stay day and night in a church in the town of Motril in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia without eating until her demands are met. She wants footballer Jennifer Hermoso to retract her statement that Rubiales kissed the World Cup winner without consent.
“His mother, who is a person of strong faith, has taken refuge in God and has gone on a hunger strike,” Vanesa Ruiz Bejar, a cousin of Rubiales, said in a press conference broadcast on national TV. “She does not want to leave the church, his family is suffering a lot for him. What is happening does not seem fair to us.”
In a defiant statement on Friday, the president of the Spanish Football Federation refused to resign and said Hermoso agreed to the kiss. The player said the 46-year-old’s explanation was “categorically false.”
The scandal has soured Spain’s remarkable Aug. 20 victory and shines a light on gender inequality in the country. Rubiales was suspended for 90 days on Saturday by FIFA, the sports world governing body, amid a global uproar over the kiss and an obscene gesture he made during the final match.
Read More: A Kiss Turns a Moment of Triumph Into an Ugly Spectacle in Spain
The controversy has spread across Spain, with the government also starting proceedings to suspend him. The country’s football association holds a meeting on Monday to discuss its next steps.
Read More: Spanish Prosecutor to Investigate Football Chief: Efe
The entire Spanish women’s team has announced that it will not play until all top management of the association is changed. That includes coach Jorge Vilda, who also holds a management job in the association. Vilda initially stood by Rubiales but condemned the president’s actions in a statement following FIFA’s suspension.
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