WOMEN'S SOCCER

Venezuelan players detail sexual harassment and abuse by coach Kenneth Zseremeta

In a detailed letter, published by Atlético Madrid's Denya Castellanos, 24 players have accused the former coach of abuse over the last decade.

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Venezuelan players detail sexual harassment and abuse by coach Kenneth Zseremeta

Kenneth Zseremeta has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by more than 20 players across women's national football teams in Venezuela. The players co-signed a letter detailing the allegations about the former coach and this has since been circulated on social media.

Fighting back over sexual abuse in women’s game

Women's soccer is going through a critical period in many parts of the world. Just a few days ago, players of the National Women's Soccer League denounced coach Paul Riley for sexual coercion, sparking a massive global reaction that led the US Soccer federation to suspend his coaching license and North Carolina Courage fired him from his position.

Now the 24 Venezuelan players have raised their voices against coach Zseremeta, saying that they had “decided to break the silence to prevent situations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse and harassment" by the coach, and to avoid him "taking more victims in women's soccer and in the world."

Deyna Castellanos, who plays for Atlético Madrid, published the statement on her social media accounts and specified various incidents that had occurred with Venezuelan players in the last decade.

“From 2013 to 2017 numerous incidents arose around coach Zseremeta, the most common ones including physical and psychological abuse during training sessions. Many of us continue with trauma and mental wounds that accompany us in our day to day.

The letter also highlighted specific focus on those in the LGBTI community.

"Today we understand that these actions had the intent of manipulating us and making us feel guilty. Players of the LGBTI community were continually questioned for their sexual orientation and the harassment of the heterosexual players was constant. There were threats and manipulation related to telling parents of the players about their sexual orientation if they did not obey or perform as was expected."

In a further disturbing part of the statement, it says that one of the teammates had “confessed that she had been sexually abused since the age of 14 by coach Kenneth Zseremeta”.

The other players signing the letter were: Lourdes Moreno, Gabriela García, María Gabriela García, Hilary Vergara, Sandra Luzardo, Michelle Romero, Fatima Lobo, Franyely Rodríguez, Nikol González, Camila Pescatore, Daniuksa Rodríguez, Yuliana Caile, Alexandra Canaguacan, Génesis Flores, Alexa Castro, Yohanli Mujica, Bárbara Serrano, Tahicelis Marcano, Heliamar Alvarado, Yailyn Medina, Nathalie Pasquel, Icéis Briceño and Dayana Rodríguez.