When the world turns against you and all seems to be lost, on whom can you depend for comfort and support? Your mother, of course.
Across Spain, Luis Rubiales, head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, has become persona totally non grata as a result of a hug and a kiss to congratulate the World Cup‑winning player, Jenni Hermoso.
Rubiales’ mother, Angeles Bejar, is not having it. She’s locked herself inside a church and begun a hunger strike to protest against what she’s described as ‘an inhumane witch-hunt’ against her son.
What’s a mother to do when she sees her son suspended from his job (he’s been banned from all football-related activity for 90 days by FIFA) and facing a sexual assault investigation by Spanish police?
So, two women now face up to each other to determine the future of one beleaguered man.
Luis Rubiales, head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, is pictured kissing star player Jenni Hermoso after the Spanish team won the World Cup
Senora Bejar says she will persist in her hunger strike until her Luis receives ‘justice’ and demands football star Hermoso ‘tell the truth’ about the kiss that led to her son’s fall from grace.
Her number one supporter, Luis’ cousin Vanessa, says: ‘He has been judged before his time. We want Jenni to tell the truth. It’s not fair.’
Hermoso, meanwhile, rejecting the Federation’s claim that she said the kiss was not inappropriate, has dug in the heels of her boots and said with absolute determination:
‘I want to clarify that at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me . . . I do not tolerate that my word is questioned, much less that words are invented that I have not said.’
Hang on a minute. What exactly are we really talking about here?
A young woman, fit and agile, who is no doubt exhausted but brimming with excitement at being part of the team that have just become champions of the world, leaving England’s Lionesses hanging their heads like lonely, sad little cubs.
Caught up in the thrill of the moment, she walks the line of effusive congratulations, meets her Queen and then the boss — Luis Rubiales.
He’s no doubt as thrilled as she is at the result and her prowess on the pitch, but maybe a little overwhelmed at coming face-to-face with one of his star players.
Jenni is unconvinced that Luis Rubiales actions amount to sexual assault and is disappointed with the reaction of Spain’s feminist movement
Remember he’s Spanish, and probably genetically and culturally more effusive in the kissing and hugging department than a chilly Englishman might have been in such a line-up at Wembley.
I can only assume his natural inclination was to give her a big hug and a kiss — a real smackeroo. She, in turn, put her arms around him, hugged him and demonstrated no revulsion at what’s now been dubbed his ‘inappropriate behaviour’.
Indeed, new footage posted on Twitter shows Hermoso joking with Spanish teammates at internet memes of her being kissed by Rubiales. So it’s no surprise Senora Bejar is furious.
Nobody knows her son better than she, and I totally sympathise with her anger at those who claim his ‘unacceptable behaviours’ have ‘seriously damaged the image of Spanish football’.
She has no doubt been hugged and kissed by him on many an occasion. She’ll believe in his enthusiasm, excitement and complete innocence in such engagements.
Grabbing his crotch in excitement earlier in the World Cup final was gross and offensive, I grant you, but to describe the kiss as a sexual assault seems to me utterly outrageous and no one will agree more than his mother.
It is, frankly, an insult to those of us who have suffered a true sexual assault and had it diminished or ignored by those we trust to support us.
Sexual assault is not carried out on the world’s stage, watched by millions. It happens most often when no one’s looking.
I’m rather ashamed of the Spanish feminist movement that’s leapt on this incident as another example of the patriarchy overstepping the mark.
It’s no such thing, and such nonsense does nothing to help enable those women who have truly suffered to have their voices heard. It’ll be dismissed, and rightly, as ‘false feminism’.
I don’t believe that kiss was an assault of any description. It was a proud man being a little over-effusive in a moment that was no doubt one of the highlights of his career, as it was of Hermoso’s.
I’m a mother of two sons and would never defend or support them if I were to find out they had done something truly wicked. But giving a woman a hug and a kiss in public in a moment of high excitement I would defend to the death.
I might not lock myself in a church and go on hunger strike as Senora Bejar has done — it’s in a rather dramatic Latin style. But I would protest loudly in whatever way I could.
So good luck to her — and him — and a shout out for the power of a mother’s love.
On bikinis, I’m with Team Barbie
Margot Robbie, star of this summer’s box office hit Barbie, looks stunning in a cream swimsuit
There’s been a lot of pressure in recent months to go along with the restoration of the bikini. I’ve always hated them and the way they reveal the often unattractive midriff.
So, three cheers for Margot Robbie (aka Barbie) for showing how stunning a perfect one-piece can look.
Where were the rainbow badges?
I was surprised to read the reports about the NHS Rainbow Badge Scheme, which rewards medical staff for dropping ‘gendered language’ from policies, forms and signs, leading to the alleged ‘erasure of women’.
Two weeks treating an infected foot in London’s Royal Free Hospital, which is signed up to the initiative, caused me no upset.
As a patient, we had an all-female ward and bathroom, and no one appeared afraid to ask our names or status.
The subtle joy of slow TV
Ruth Wilson (pictured) stars in The Woman In The Wall on BBC
What a lovely change. A BBC Sunday night drama with an intriguing and moving plot that’s allowed to unfold slowly.
Ruth Wilson’s performance in The Woman In The Wall, as a woman whose baby was stolen at one of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, is faultless.
The mystery is compelling, the evil that was done to women in the name of the Catholic Church as upsetting as ever. Brilliant. I’m hooked.
Why the sudden fashion for drinking red wine that’s been in the fridge?
White wine and rosé benefit from chilling, but red? Never.
Red wine is rich in flavour and looks tempting in the glass. It’s warm and must remain so.
Jenni is not a fan of the current trend to drink chilled red wine that is fresh from the fridge
There were endless arguments with my grandma about the correct terms for lunch, dinner and supper.
She would say, ‘Come and get your dinner’ at midday. I would insist it was lunch; dinner was in the evening and supper was just before bed.
Now I find Shakespeare, master of the English language, agreed with her. Sorry Gran, but I’ll still call it lunch.