‘Misconduct’ axe on U-17 women's football coach
The Indian football establishment has been struck by a sexual harassment controversy months before the country hosts the under-17 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
A coach attached with the Indian under-17 women’s team was suspended and called back from Norway on Monday for alleged “misconduct” with a minor footballer during the ongoing training tour to Europe. The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), managing the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has informed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) about the incident.
“An event of misconduct has been reported in the U-17 women’s team, currently on an exposure tour to Europe. The AIFF follows a zero-tolerance policy on indiscipline. As an initial action, the Federation has provisionally suspended the individual pending further investigation,” a statement from the CoA on Thursday said.
“The AIFF has asked the concerned individual to stop all contact with the team, return to India immediately, and be physically present for further investigations upon his arrival,” the statement added.
The team is currently touring Europe as part of preparations for the under-17 World Cup.
It has been learnt that an angry head coach Thomas Dennerby informed the AIFF after he came to know of the “incident”. “The coach is set to face criminal charges since the girl is a minor. This person has put Indian football 20 years back,” the source said.
Condemning the incident, the member associations urged the COA and AIFF administration to initiate an independent enquiry and called for a life ban for the coach.
“State Associations would like to recommend stringent action including legal and exemplary punishment with a life ban from football and even cancelling his coaching licenses,” said a statement.
State Associations also resolved to request both COA and AIFF administration to urgently appoint a Woman Safety Officer with immediate effect to instil confidence in the system for women players and women working in football, especially with national teams and also at the AIFF house in New Delhi, it added.
The member associations also placed in a “sincere request” to the administration that all male support staff be replaced with women staffers as early as possible.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das has resigned on medical grounds. He was on leave for the last few days citing health issues.