Youth soccer sex abuse scandal causes uproar in Argentina

A man rides his bicycle past the Independiente soccer club's training headquarters in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Independiente recently filed a complaint with prosecutors after at least two of the club's youth division players were allegedly the victims of a prostitution ring. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
General Attorney of Buenos Aires province Julio Conte Grand, right, and prosecutor Maria Soledad Garibaldi give a press conference about sex abuse scandals involving minors in professional athletics in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. River Plate said this week it will collaborate with authorities after a local NGO reported minors were allegedly abused in the club's youth divisions from 2004-11, days after police arrested a referee for his suspected involvement in a child prostitution ring with players from the Independiente youth club. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
General Attorney of Buenos Aires province Julio Conte Grand, right, and prosecutor Maria Soledad Garibaldi give a press conference about sex abuse scandals involving minors in professional athletics, in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. River Plate said this week it will collaborate with authorities after a local NGO reported minors were allegedly abused in the club's youth divisions from 2004-11, days after police arrested a referee for his suspected involvement in a child prostitution ring with players from the Independiente youth club. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina's Football Association said Wednesday that it will closely monitor boarding houses where youth players live following a sex abuse scandal involving minors at two of the country's most popular and powerful clubs.

River Plate said earlier this week that it will collaborate with authorities after a local NGO reported minors were allegedly abused in the club's youth divisions from 2004-11. The abuse accusations come just days after police arrested a referee for his suspected involvement in a child prostitution ring with players from the Independiente youth club.

"We want this to be investigated," said Dante Majori, the president of Argentine Football Association's youth and children's committee.

"We want to contribute with the law so that those responsible for these abhorrent acts are caught."

Majori said the abuse allegations took place before he came into the job last year, and had not been reported until now. But he said that the soccer federation, known by its AFA acronym, will launch inspections nationwide.

"We've set out to revise and carry out a protocol to regulate these boarding houses" he told local Todo Noticias TV channel.

Independiente recently filed a complaint with prosecutors after at least two of the club's youth division players were allegedly the victims of a prostitution ring. The allegations first surfaced after one of the players broke down during a session with a psychologist. He said that he had been abused, that he had sex with men in exchange for money, and that players were recruited to the prostitution ring by another club member.

The prosecutor investigating the case said Wednesday that the 19-year-old who recruited them was abused himself, and is now cooperating with authorities. At least seven minors were prostituted and 10 more minors are believed to have been potential victims.

So far, five men suspected to be part of the prostitution ring have been arrested. Investigators are also analyzing dozens of calls made to young players for possible grooming.

"Many kids were contacted but they didn't fall. We're investigating this. Thank God these acts were not carried out," prosecutor Maria Soledad Garibaldi said at a news conference. "We're all united here - the kids, the parents, and the law."

In soccer-crazed Argentina, thousands of talented kids train in soccer academies and club youth divisions that have been talent factories where Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and other stars once polished their skills as children.

Many children in club boarding houses come from low-income families in remote communities, and live far from their parents under the care of clubs, dreaming of a chance to make it big in the hyper competitive world of professional soccer.

Investigators say that some of the young victims were offered trips to their home provinces and soccer boots in exchange for sex.

"They took advantage of their maximum vulnerability," Buenos Aires province attorney general Julio Marcelo Conte Grand, told reporters. "They took advantage of their utmost desire to reach professional success."

AFA said Wednesday that it has reached out to the kids, their families and professionals.

"We're going to work both inside and outside of the boarding houses with containment and social work for all of children and youth soccer," Majori said.

The abuse scandal goes beyond soccer.

Argentina's Olympic Committee filed a legal complaint Tuesday against a gymnastics coach who is accused of abusing a still undetermined number of athletes. The case is being investigated by a local prosecutor. As part of the probe, authorities raided the headquarters of the Argentine gymnastics confederation on Wednesday.

"We have become aware through someone who manages our relationship with the athletes that certain athletes were abused by a coach in the 1990's," said Gerardo Werthein, the president of Argentina's Olympic Committee. He did not disclose the identity.

"It's incredible that so much time has happened and that no one has acted," he said.

__

Associated Press writers Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey contributed to this report.

People also read these

Usain Bolt still the fastest man in the world

Aug 15, 2016

Usain Bolt is still the world's fastest man, winning the 100 meters; even a slow start out of the...

Neymar, Brazil come out blazing in Olympic soccer...

Aug 18, 2016

Neymar scored twice as Brazil rolled to a 6-0 victory over Honduras in the men's soccer semifinals

France to play for 3rd Olympic gold in men's...

Aug 20, 2016

Daniel Narcisse came through for France, big time

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Rio Games

Aug 21, 2016

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Rio Games

Rio police investigate looting at Maracana Stadium

Jan 11, 2017

Police are investigating the theft of several items from the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de...

About Us

The Score Daily brings to you the up-to-date record of your favorite sports team. Whether it is soccer, football, basketball, tennis, or rugby - you can get all the latest news update right here as we’ve got you covered.

Contact us: sales[at]thescoredaily.com

Subscribe Now!