March 7 – FIFA and Conmebol have condemned “the cases of sexual and professional abuse, violence and/or the violation of women and children’s rights” in Colombian women’s football. An U-17 national women’s player has accused a member of the coaching staff of sexual abuse last year. The accusations centre around the conduct of a staff member of Colombia’s U-17 team and the U-17 team’s former physio Carolina Rozo has pointed at former coach Didier Luna as the culprit. He tried to kiss players and touch their bottoms, according to Rozo. Out of fear for expulsion from the team, the players kept quiet. Rozo also said that after rejecting Luna’s advances, she suffered professionally and later suffered from a depression.
The alleged abuse would have taken place in Bogota during Colombia’s preparations for the Women’s U-17 World Cup in Uruguay, where Luna led the team to two draws against eventual winners Spain and South Korea. A 3-0 defeat against Canada in Colombia’s curtain raiser condemned the Colombians to a first-round exit.
FIFA and Conmebol also offered their support to the Colombian Football Federation, the FCF, to help impose sanctions against the alleged offences and prevent further cases.
The allegations have caused a storm in Colombian football as member of the senior women’s national team have voiced their dismay at how the FCF has treated them. The team has no matches scheduled and is without a coach at present. Forward Melissa Ortiz and her team-mate Isabella Echeverri have accused the FCF of sexual discrimination, saying they are subjected to inferior conditions.
They allege that the FCF has stopped paying the players a fixed daily sum of 60,000 Colombian pesos ($20 US dollars), that the FCF doesn’t pay for travel to attend international training camp and that the frequency of those camps is lamentable.
Their cause has received support from Colombia stars Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. On social media the latter demanded for a pertinent investigation.
In a statement the FCF affirmed its commitment to the women’s football. “Women’s football is a priority for the executive committee,” read the statement. “We are working hard with the intention of being host to the Women’s World Cup in 2023. We reiterate to our players that the Colombian Football Federation is their home.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1574056474labto1574056474ofdlr1574056474owedi1574056474sni@o1574056474fni1574056474