‘Kissgate’ Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales’s mother says she is prepared to die to ‘get justice for my son’ as her hunger strike enter second day – and the UN wades into the row
- Retired hairdresser Angeles Bejar launched her hunger strike on Monday
- She told Spanish TV: ‘I will stay here as long as my body holds out. I don’t mind dying for justice because my son is a decent person’
The mother of under-fire ‘kissgate’ Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales has defiantly vowed she will ‘die for justice’ as she entered the second day of hunger strike.
Retired hairdresser Angeles Bejar, 72, locked herself into the Divina Pastora church with her sister-in-law Mari Carmen, early on Monday morning.
Speaking from her religious refuge in the Costa resort of Motril, near Malaga, she said she would carry on her protest ‘indefinitely’ until ‘justice’ was achieved for her son and has refused all food, but is taking water and energy drinks.
‘I will stay here as long as my body holds out. I don’t mind dying for justice because my son is a decent person and it’s not fair what they’re doing,’ she said.
Rubiales has been at the centre of a storm of controversy since he kissed World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the final of Women’s World Cup earlier this month in Sydney. His actions sparked a global outcry, with people accusing him of both assaulting Hermoso and taking attention away from Spain’s achievement.
He has also been criticised for grabbing his crotch in front of Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia, which he has since apologised for, but has defiantly refused to resign from his post as the head of Spain’s football association (RFEF).
This is despite politicians and other high-profile figures in football and sport calling for him to quit, with even the United Nations wading into the row.
‘Kissgate’ Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales’s mother has said she is prepared to die to get ‘justice’ for her son as her hunger strike entered a second day. Pictured: Rubiales is seen kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain won the Women’s World Cup, sparking outcry
Retired hairdresser Angeles Bejar (seen left on Monday) launched her hunger strike yesterday morning at a church in the Costa resort of Motril, near Malaga
‘Women in sport continue to face sexual harassment and abuse – every one of us has the responsibility to call out and challenge such abuse,’ the UN’s human rights office said in a statement on Tuesday.
‘We join Spain’s Jenni Hermoso and all those working to end abuse & sexism in sport. Make this a turning point.’
Meanwhile, in a series of WhatsApp messages with a local TV station, Angeles explained her actions, accusing Hermoso of lying about the incident that was broadcast on live television, and has since been replayed countless times.
‘I just want her [Jenni Hermoso] to tell the truth and stick to the version she had when all this started,’ Angeles said.
READ MORE: The kiss of death for Spanish football: Prosecutors open sex abuse probe into Luis Rubiales as his mother locks herself in a church in hunger strike protest and Barcelona and Real Madrid face Champions League axe due to the scandal
‘There is no sexual abuse as there is consent on both sides, as is shown in the images. Why are they being cruel to him? What is behind all this story? He is incapable of harming anyone. I believe a lot in God and I ask for the truth.’
On Monday night a crowd of around 100 locals gathered in support of Rubiales and they were joined by several members of his family.
Police watched on as they chanted ‘Amore por Rubiales’ (Love for Rubiales) while others carried posters backing him and attacking Hermoso.
The placards read: ‘Stop chasing against Rubiales’ while another read: ‘The truth knows only one path. Jenni be sincere’ and another said: ‘Jenni why not tell the truth.’
Among those protesting was his cousin Delmelza Ruiz who said she had wanted to come out in defence of him but she pointed her attack at Jenni.
She said: ‘When a woman feels attacked, she acts differently. The lynching that is being done to an honest and loyal person is shameful.
‘In the video from the final, everyone is happy and then three days later she puts out a statement saying that she was assaulted. Excuse me, are we stupid?
‘It is shameful. There are a lot is real people out there who are mistreated, who are hit, who are killed and at no time does she look awkward.’
Overnight it was claimed she snuck into the Divina Pastora Church near her first-floor apartment home by telling a cleaner she was going to ‘say a prayer’ for Luis, now facing a criminal probe in his homeland for kissing player Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s World Cup Women’s win over England in Australia last week.
Angeles, 72, is said to have taken advantage of the moment the cleaning lady entered the church to mop up the floor and dust down the pews. The feisty OAP picked her moment while the priest was on holiday, a Spanish local claimed.
She remained inside this morning with her sister-in-law Mari Carmen, with a doctor expected to make a new visit later to check Angeles is doing okay if she decides to continue with her extraordinary protest.
She is thought to be drinking liquids, with reports water and isotonic drinks are inside the church sparking speculation she could be inside for several more days.
The whereabouts of her son, who has been suspended for 90 days by Fifa, is unknown.
He travelled to Motril for a holiday on Saturday despite the town hall’s cancellation of a football match he was due to take part in with friends at a municipal stadium for ‘security reasons.’
He is said to have met with some of his football pals at a country house just outside of town on Saturday afternoon, but has not been seen in public since he shocked the world by refusing to resign at a Spanish FA extraordinary general assembly last Friday.
Family friend Maria Mora claimed Luis is having difficulties talking with his mum.
She claimed yesterday: ‘He’s very worried, he’s having a terrible day because he hasn’t been able to speak with her and he’s feeling terrible.
‘He doesn’t know what to do because for him his mother is the most important person in the world and she’s in that church.
‘He can’t communicate with her or do anything with her.’
A mass is scheduled to take place at the church tonight and it is unclear whether police will return to the church today to try to persuade Angeles to end her protest.
The priest is believed to have cut short his holiday but has so far refused to comment.
Motril’s second-highest ranking police officer went to the church yesterday and spoke to Angeles as well as the doctor who attended her.
He said afterwards: ‘She’s doing okay given her age.’
State prosecutors at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid have opened a preliminary investigation into the post-World Cup kiss that has shaken the world of football amid allegations it was an abuse of power and a sexual assault.
They also offered Jenni Hermoso, who has insisted she did not give Rubiales permission to kiss her, the chance to join in legal action against the 46-year-old divorced dad-of-three who has claimed their kiss was consensual.
Rubiales sparked more outrage after footage emerged of him grabbing his crotch while celebrating Spain’s win in the vicinity of Spanish Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter
Spanish Football Federation regional leaders called on Rubiales, who apologised for grabbing his crotch in front of Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia in the same post-match celebrations in Sydney, to resign at an emergency meeting in Madrid yesterday.
All 23 players on Spain’s World Cup winning team have said they will not play international games while Rubiales remains in his post.
Yesterday Spain’s deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz weighed into the row over the football boss’ behaviour, saying it showed ‘the worst of Spanish society.’
Two of Rubiales’ female cousins were among those who turned up at the church where his mum is on hunger strike yesterday to defend him.
Vanesa Ruiz Bejar insisted: ‘There’s a campaign of harassment occurring that is very unfair. ‘Luis’ mum who is a very religious person has sought refuge in God and started a hunger strike.
‘She doesn’t want to come out of the church. We are all suffering a lot because of what’s happened to Luis which doesn’t seem at all fair to us.
‘He’s been condemned already without being tried. It’s not normal. We won’t to be left alone. The facts speak for them, there are videos, there are audio recordings.’
In a direct message to player Jenni Hermoso, she added: ‘Jenni, say the truth.’
‘Why has she changed her version three times? We have suffered a lot, we have had to leave our homes because of the harassment we’re suffering.
‘We won’t to be left alone and see justice done and we want this woman to tell the truth. Jenni, tell the truth!’
She went on to say Angeles Bejar, Luis’ mum, was in a very distressed state, adding: ‘She’s an elderly lady whose health is very delicate and she’s suffering a lot.
‘She’s crying all time and is not able to sleep and is not eating.
‘The person that spends five minutes with Luis knows he’s a really good person with a big heart. He’s a very noble person.’
Asked when Angeles’ hunger strike would continue until, she said referring to Jenni Hermoso: ‘Until that woman speaks and tells the truth. I’m not saying who’s the baddie and who’s the goodie here, but I just want Jenni to tell the truth.’
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Maria Mora (pictured) said: ‘I’ve spoken to Luis and he is obviously worried about his mother. She’s locked herself her and is not in the best of health
Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales refused to resign in a speech last week
Jenni, 33, who plays for Mexican side Pachuca, has said in a statement of the kiss: ‘I want to make clear that not in any moment did the conversation occur that Mr Luis Rubiales references, and much less that his kiss was consensual.
‘In the same way I want to reiterate how I did in that moment that what happened was not enjoyable.
‘The situation left me in shock because of the context of the celebration, and with the time passed, and those initial feelings being able to sink, I feel the need to denounce this as I feel that no one, in no work space, sporting or social, should be a victim to this type of unconsensual behaviour.
‘I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part. In short, I wasn’t respected.’
In another development that could have devastating consequences for Spanish football, it was revealed yesterday that Spanish super clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid face being axed from the Champions League after the Spanish FA called for the UEFA to consider expelling them from the tournament in an act of self-sabotage.
Rubiales’ allies in the Spanish FA have become frustrated that the government has joined calls for their leader to resign for his ‘intolerable’ behaviour, and essentially reported themselves to UEFA for having a third party ‘influence’ their internal affairs.
But in their bid to get the government to back off, the Spanish FA could shoot itself in the foot – all to save the job and already damaged reputation of one man – and see all of Spain’s clubs excluded from UEFA competitions.
Meanwhile, more than 80 current and former Spanish players, including the 23 who travelled to Australia and New New Zealand for the Women’s World Cup, said they will not play until Rubiales resigns.
Spain great Andrés Iniesta, a 2010 World Cup winner, said over the weekend: ‘After what has happened this week I would like to express my sadness, as a person, as a father of three girls, as a husband and as a soccer player.
‘We have had to bear this president who clung to power, didn’t admit that his behaviour had been unacceptable and was damaging the image of our country and our soccer before the world,’ Iniesta said.
Rubiales received some support during Friday’s general assembly when he was applauded several times by parts of the mostly male crowd, which was made up of regional federation officials, coaches, referees and players from lower divisions.
But his refusal to go quietly led to some resignations from his board, including the vice president in charge of women’s soccer. The federation will also keep open its own internal probe into the incident as part of its sexual violence protocol.
Those who applauded his diatribe included women’s coach Jorge Vilda – Hermoso’s coach – the manager of Spain’s men’s team, Luis de la Fuente.
But once FIFA suspended Rubiales, it took only hours for both coaches to issue statements sanctioning their now former boss.
Luis Rubiales (third left), President of the Royal Spanish Federation joins in the celebrations as Queen Letzia of Spain lifts the trophy, as the team celebrate at the awards ceremony after winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia on August 20, 2023
Spanish Minister Diaz told reporters on Monday: ‘On Friday we saw the worst of Spanish society, of the structural machismo of this country.
‘They clapped and humiliated and made fun of a person they had the obligation to protect under the sports law and far from doing that, they inflicted more damage, more pain, more vexation.’
She insisted, however, that Spanish society was predominantly ‘feminist’ and ‘an example in the world’.
‘That’s why these behaviours are much more shocking,’ she said.
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