Under-fire Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales’ mother on hunger strike over ‘hunt’ on son, says report, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Under-fire Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales’ mother on hunger strike over ‘hunt’ on son, says report

MADRID – The mother of Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales on Monday locked herself inside a church and started a hunger strike to protest against what she called her son’s “inhumane treatment” over his grabbing and kissing player Jennifer Hermoso, EFE news agency reported.

Rubiales, who is head of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), was suspended on Saturday by Fifa amid a furore after he kissed Hermoso on the mouth during the awards ceremony following Spain’s Women’s World Cup win in Sydney. Hermoso says she did not want to be kissed.

RFEF has called regional federations to an urgent meeting on Monday to evaluate the situation, which has spiralled into a national argument over women’s rights and macho behaviour.

Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz was also due to meet on Monday with representatives of the women’s players’ union Futpro, which represents Hermoso, and the Association of Spanish Footballers to ensure football is a sector “that has decent conditions and spaces free of sexist violence”.

Rubiales’ mother 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, Bejar, who also asked Hermoso to tell the truth and “stick to the version she gave at the beginning”, was staying inside the parish church of Divina Pastora in Rubiales’ hometown in Motril, southern Spain, with her sister after the parish priest left.

“There is no sexual abuse since there is consent on both sides, as the images prove,” Bejar told EFE. 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’ cousin, Vanessa Ruiz, said the family was suffering and facing harassment over what she described as “unfair” premature judgments.

Rubiales, 46, has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her teammates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual.

At Friday’s federation meeting 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”.

RFEF has said Rubiales will defend himself legally to prove “his complete innocence”.

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.

Feminist groups have called a demonstration on Monday in Madrid entitled “With You Jenni”. Hundreds of people staged a demonstration on Sunday in Salamanca against Rubiales.

The Spanish government cannot fire Rubiales but has strongly denounced his actions and said on Friday it was seeking to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the only goal in the 2010 men’s World Cup final to give Spain the trophy for the first time, said Rubiales’ conduct had “tarnished” the women’s achievement. Meanwhile, Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias retired from the Spanish national team in protest against Rubiales.

All 23 of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as dozens of other squad members, said on Friday they would not play internationals while Rubiales remained head of the federation. Their next match is away to Sweden in the Nations League on Sept 22.  - REUTERS, AFP