Venezuelan players accuse former coach of sexual abuse in open letter | international football

Twenty-four Venezuelan women’s team players released an open letter on social media accusing Panamanian coach Kenneth Zseremeta, who led the team in various categories between 2008 and 2017, of harassment and physical, psychological and sexual abuse against female players, including minors. age.

Venezuela Women’s National Team players — Photo: Twitter/Venezuelan Women’s Team

According to the report, signed among others by Atlético Madrid striker Deyna Castellanos, there is at least one reported case of sexual abuse, carried out by an athlete who remains anonymous.

“Last year (2020), one of our companions confessed to us that she had been sexually abused since the age of 14 (2014) by trainer Kenneth Zseremeta. This abuse lasted until he was fired. His accomplice in all of this was Williams Pino. news that for all of us was very difficult to assimilate, as many of us feel guilty for having been so close to it all and not realizing something so serious and punishable. , because that was the type of environment that the coach cultivated day by day,” says an excerpt of the statement.

Zsemereta directed Venezuela’s senior national team at the 2014 Copa America, as well as the country’s under-17 team at the 2014 and 2016 World Cups. After leaving the post in 2017, the 55-year-old coach worked at Deportivo Táchira and national teams women from the Dominican Republic and Panama.

The open letter tells, among other things, that between 2013 and 2017 “there were numerous incidents around the figure of coach Zseremeta, the most common being physical and psychological abuse during training”.

According to the players, it was normal for Zseremeta to opine, comment and ask the athletes about their sexual orientation and intimacy, even to minors.

“The players in the LGTBI community were constantly questioned about their sexual orientation and the harassment of heterosexual players was constant”, completes the report. “Sexual innuendos were everyday themes as were comments to the physical appeal of many of our players,” the statement continues.

The Venezuelan athletes say they have been looking for solutions to make a legal demand, “but for different reasons, it has been very difficult”, and that is why they decided to omit the name of the player who reported the abuse.

The players close the open letter asking “all relevant people”, such as FIFA, confederations, federations and leagues, “not to allow this ‘coach’ to continue making his life within women’s football”.

Finally, they say, “As players, we won’t be silent anymore, however we know we need support from all these institutions to protect female football players globally, and create a culture where we can be safe.”