A group of female footballers have come forward with allegations of bullying, misconduct and sexual harassment against a women’s youth team coach employed by the Argentine Football Association (AFA).
The explosive claims, confirmed in a statement from international players’ union FIFPRO, have cast a scandal over AFA, have been made by several players, including a 14-year-old. Many of the individuals involved were teenagers when the events allegedly took place.
"FIFPRO is assisting multiple renowned Argentine players, who have filed a complaint with the FIFA Ethics Committee regarding the very worrying behaviour, over years, by a coach currently employed by the Argentine Football Association (AFA)," said FIFPRO.
“The players have submitted evidence to the ethics committee that alleges the coach used his position of power in the women’s game in Argentina to sexually harass and bully teenaged girls as young as 14 who were pursuing their dream to become footballers,” it said.
“In what should have been a safe environment, girls and women were subjected to threats and comments of a violent and sexually explicit nature.”
The organisation called for the coach to be removed immediately. “Because of the extremely serious nature of these offences, FIFPRO has asked FIFA to immediately remove the coach from his current position where he may have access to and power over minors.”
Responding to the allegations, AFA said it would “provide all the necessary collaboration in the investigation if the competent body of FIFA so requires” and vowed to “fully and absolutely abide by the resolution issued at the end of the process."
One player, speaking anonymously to The Guardian, said that players had accused of coach of threatening them with sexual violence after poor performances, asking inappropriate questions about players’ seual preferences, using homophobvic language and of arguing that homosexuality was damaging the development of women’s football.