Icelandic FA board resigns over sexual assault cover-up

September 1 – Icelandic football has been brought to its knees by a sex abuse scandal that has resulted in the national federation’s entire board resigning en masse.

Every member has stepped down after the federation (KSI) was  accused of covering up claims of alleged sexual assault by a national squad player.

KDI president president Gudni Bergsson had already quit on Sunday after criticism that he had played down the claims. But after an emergency meeting lasting nearly five hours, the 16 other members of the committee in turn announced they were also stepping down from their posts.

An extraordinary session to appoint a new president and executive committee is due to take place in the coming weeks.

The scandal broke when a 25-year-old woman, Thorhildur Gyda Arnarsdottir, told public broadcaster RUV that a member of the national team had grabbed her crotch before assaulting her with another individual, in a Reykjavik nightclub in September 2017 – and that the KSI had been informed.

Arnarsdottir and another woman reportedly filed police reports against a player for sexual assault that same night. It is claimed the player admitted to the incident and apologised but that at least six other players had been accused of sexual assaults by other women.

According to Icelandic media, a confidentiality agreement was signed, supported by the KSI, in exchange for compensation.

Reports claim Bergsson was found to have lied when he told national television that the association had “not received a complaint or any kind of suggestion that someone in particular has been guilty of sexual offences.”

He publicly apologised but eventually resigned after several crisis meetings.

Icelandic media have named the player allegedly involved, who currently represents Swedish club IFK Göteborg.

In a statement, the club said that they took the allegations “very seriously” even if the case was legally closed.

“We have initiated a dialogue with the player about this to investigate which way we can take forward,” club director Håkan Mild was quoted as saying. “We want to make it clear that we distance ourselves from his behaviour and all similar behaviour.”

KSÍ said they would also hold meetings with UEFA and FIFA about the overhaul of its executive to make sure that football in Iceland could continue uninterrupted.

“We know that we as guarantors have failed you and we intend to do better,” a KSI statement said.

“We want to ensure that the responsibility for violence is placed in the right place, on the shoulders of the perpetrators and not the victims.”

“We are going to fix the things that have gone wrong and look at the culture of the football movement that exists. The football movement is part of society, and we as a society all need to do better in dealing with victims and fighting sexual violence.”

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