U-17 women’s soccer coach charged with ‘misconduct’ | Latest News India

An assistant coach of India’s U17 women’s soccer team preparing for the World Cup this year has been suspended pending investigation after allegations of misconduct with a player surfaced during the team’s ongoing trip to Norway. The World Cup will take place in India from October 11th to 30th.

The coach, a former Indian player, has returned to Goa and will be summoned next week to appear before an All India Football Federation (AIFF) internal disciplinary panel, which now reports to an Administrative Committee (CoA).

AIFF officials, who asked not to be named, said the issue came to light when the underage player was absent from her room for three consecutive nights. Manager Hilda Gurung and staff from the squad, coached by Swede Thomas Dennerby, searched rooms to see if the player was with another teammate. But she could not be traced.

The assistant coach also said the player was not in his room, leading a harried staff to consider filing a missing persons report. Shortly after, however, the player was spotted leaving the assistant coach’s room. According to a PTI report, it was Dennerby who briefed AIFF on the assistant coach’s conduct. As this happened on a trip funded by the Union government, the Indian Sport Authority has also been informed by CoA, PTI added.

In a joint media release, state football associations have demanded an FIR against the assistant coach for serious misconduct with a minor, a lifetime ban and the withdrawal of his coaching badge.

“A case of misconduct has been reported in the U-17 women’s team, which is currently on a tour of Europe. The AIFF has a zero-tolerance policy in the event of indiscipline. As a first step, the association temporarily suspended the person pending further investigation,” the CoA said in a statement on Thursday.

“The AIFF has asked the subject to cease all contact with the team… and be physically present for further investigation…”

Following this misconduct charge, the state associations have also “decided to urge the COA and AIFF administration to urgently appoint a women’s safety officer, effective immediately.” This will increase confidence in the system for players and women working in football, particularly on the national teams and in the AIFF House, the statement said.

This is the third recent incident of sexual harassment or misconduct in Indian sport. A cyclist accused a national coach of misconduct during a training trip to Slovenia. The coach has been sacked and faces an investigation. A sailor has also accused a trainer of making her uncomfortable during a trip abroad.

Former Indian badminton player Aparna Popat said: β€œThe system needs to change. An ecosystem has to be developed that mature people enter, from the coaches to the federation. If it requires tough decisions to be made, they should be. I think we need to come to a fair conclusion on these matters fairly and quickly. That is what Indian sport needs.”

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