The mother of beleaguered Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales, who went on hunger strike in support of her son earlier this week, has been taken to a hospital after becoming “anguished and dizzy,” according to a local priest.
Ángeles Béjar locked herself in the Divina Pastora church in her hometown of Motril, in southern Spain, on Monday to protest the treatment of her son after he was suspended by FIFA for forcibly kissing World Cup player Jennifer Hermoso at the final.
A priest at the church, who identified himself as Father Antonio, told reporters that Béjar had been taken to the hospital on Wednesday.
“I need to tell you that she has had a crisis, she has worsened and they needed to take her urgently to the hospital,” said Father Antonio from outside the church.
“So she’s not here anymore, she had to leave for the hospital because the woman was already tired and had lots of issues already, even some anemic issues so she had to leave.”
Béjar felt “anguished and dizzy,” and had complained of irregularities with her heartbeat, Father Antonio said.
He said her son, Rubiales, had spoken with his mother before she was taken to the hospital.
“Her son [Luis Rubiales] called her yes, he has called her and they have been in touch. And among all of them [the family] they decided she needed to go to hospital,” Father Antonio said.
Béjar has previously said her goal was to protest what she called an “inhumane, bloodthirsty hunt” against her son, according to Spanish media reports.
“I don’t think that this man committed a sexual assault like they’re saying. That seems too strong to me,” the friend said.
Spain defeated England at the World Cup final earlier this month but the team’s triumph has been overshadowed by the row surrounding Rubiales and significant anger from the women’s team against his leadership.
Rubiales has admitted that he made a mistake kissing Hermoso but has claimed the act was consensual. Hermoso has insisted that she did not give her permission to be kissed and felt violated by Rubiales’ actions.
Rubiales was suspended by FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, over the weekend. Under the terms of the suspension, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) has appointed an interim president to replace Rubiales during the 90 days he’s banned from participating in all football-related activities.
On Monday, all 19 regional presidents of the soccer federation called for Rubiales to resign while offering unanimous support for interim president Pedro Rocha.
The pressure on Rubiales to step down from his position as RFEF president has only intensified since he dramatically refused to do so during a speech at the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday, vowing to “fight to the end.”
Spanish prosecutors are considering whether to press sexual aggression charges against Rubiales.
He also faces continued criticism from players, politicians, union officials and even the United Nations, with protesters taking to the streets in Madrid on Monday to escalate calls for his resignation.