Scandal has hit the U20 World Cup even before a ball has been kicked: local press reports on Friday night revealed that members of the Iraqi delegation in Argentina have been accused of committing “sexual abuse” and “acts of vandalism” at a hotel in La Plata.
The Iraqi national youth football team, which will take part in the U20 World Cup that begins this weekend in Argentina, was accused of abuse behaviour against an employee of the Dazzler de La Plata hotel where they are staying in the city, as well as "acts of vandalism," according to a police report.
No-one has been arrested and no criminal complaint has been made, but the scandal nevertheless led to the intervention of authorities from the Buenos Aires Province Security Ministry, consular staff and FIFA.
The allegations were reported by a member of the security liaison team accompanying the Iraq U20 team, First Lieutenant Pedro Willemoes, who summoned his superiors to the hotel in La Plata, where the Middle Eastern country's squad is staying.
"Willemoes said that he had met a young woman who works in the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel and that she had told him that on the date (Thursday, May 18), members of the Iraqi delegation had touched an intimate part of her body," read a report filed at a police station in Buenos Aires Province.
According to the police report, published on Friday by local press outlets, the woman did not want to file a criminal complaint and did not provide her identity.
The head of the hotel’s reception, Maximiliano Sanabria, also said that some of the 48 members of the Iraqi delegation "wandered through the corridors and arrived at the hotel reception in their underwear,” then “deliberately activated the fire alarm system and [undertook] other unusual behaviour never seen before at the hotel," according to the report.
Another employee, describing the behaviour as “acts of vandalism,” also alleged that “some members of the delegation had mistreated a translator” and that the Iraqi delegation had broken a lift through overcrowding.
The head of the Iraqi delegation, Mohammed Naser Shakrom Al-Mansoori, was notified of the alleged behaviour through translators, according to the police report.
Asked by the AFP news agency to comment, hotel staff declined.
Iraq are in Group E of the U-20 World Cup and are due to face Uruguay, England and Tunisia in the tournament, which begins in Argentina this Saturday.