A North African football team has been sent home from the Gothia World Youth Cup tournament in Sweden after members sexually assaulted three teenagers at the event’s opening ceremony.
At the opening ceremony of the Gothia Cup on Monday, a gang of North African men surrounded and groped three 16 year old girls. Police arrested the team’s 35 year old manager for sexual assault.
Events unfolded when, outside Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, a group of between 30 and 40 men from a North African football team asked the girls if they could take photographs with them.
Swedish media outlet SVT reported that the group then began surrounding the three teens, groping them and trying to put their hands under the girls’ clothes.
The mother of one of the alleged victims said the men “kissed [the girls], and the grown man shoved his tongue in my daughter’s mouth”. She said the teens then panicked and tried to protect themselves.
Police arrived to stop the sexual assaults after hearing the girls’ cries for help, and arrested the club’s 35-year-old manager. Police did not arrest any of the teenagers for the attacks because it would have been too difficult for the girls to have identified which of them were responsible. The tournament’s organisers chose to dismiss the team from the competition.
Gothia Cup’s founder and secretary general, Dennis Andersson, said that after meeting with the foreign team they were “very remorseful” about the attacks and that the men admitted that they knew what they did was wrong.
Noting that such attacks had never happened before at the tournament, which is the world’s largest and most international youth football competition. Mr. Andersson indicated that the Gothia Cup would take a stand against the issue of sexual harassment at next year’s tournament.
He said: “I have already started thinking about the future. Gothia Cup should be at the forefront of the question of stopping stuff like [sexual assaults].
“Next year [at the tournament] we’ll do something big, something that will be seen and heard.”