Argentine football is not only Messi, but there are dark sides |  DW |  26.08.2022

Argentine football is not only Messi, but there are dark sides | DW | 26.08.2022

Horror appeared on Luciana Bacchi’s face: “It’s a shame that they protect the perpetrator. It gives us all an example that they don’t believe you if you’re a girl and you’ve been raped, abused or abused in a club,” says the Argentine footballer. This is the case of Diego Gouachi. According to the statements of several young women, the former youth coach threatened them with rape during bad matches and asked them to strip during video conferences.

Once considered an exemplary coach, Gouachi worked in Argentine women’s and girls’ football and even held a sporting position at FIFA. The FIFA Ethics Committee reached a devastating conclusion for the victims, as the committee validated their statements, but there was not enough evidence to provide for punishment. Now Gowashi can continue working, despite allegations from the players, some of whom were only 14 years old at the time.

Bringing up sexual abuse is taboo

“It’s a taboo subject,” Mariana Elena Liuzzi, 69, said in an interview with DW. “It immediately provokes a defensive reaction.” Luzzi fights with her NGO AVIVI for the rights of victims of sexual violence in Argentina and already has experiences with cases of abuse in the football system.

Fighting for the rights of victims in Argentina: Mariana Elena Luzzi

Luzzi has reported cases of abuse at soccer schools linked to major Argentine clubs such as River Plate or The Independent, where children have been sexually assaulted, intimidated and threatened. When it announced the first cases in 2018, the organization suddenly received more than 100 emails from other victims of the Argentine Youth Centers. Louise caused a large file to open. “It was awful because those footballers who lived in football schools were boys who came from far away from other countries or from other provinces. They all dreamed of becoming the next Maradona, Messi or Ronaldinho.” It is precisely this relationship of trust that some coaches have exploited, according to Liuzzi.

Victims need great courage

What distinguishes the Argentinian players in the Gouachi case and the boys in the case of the youth soccer divisions, Luzzi recalls, is their tremendous courage. “You always need someone with the strength to say it. Then the other victims will follow.” Then the avalanche begins. This is not an Argentine problem specifically, but it exists in all countries of the world, she says.

The Argentine Football Association recently reacted to the events and created what it says is the world’s first gender equality department. Attorney Paula Ojeda took on this task in the Federation. Ojeda told DW that one of her tasks is to “recognize and overcome stereotypes and prejudices” and it is important to “respect the other person, respect their space, their personality, their beliefs and their body”. “This is the only way to bring about the changes that football needs,” she added.

Children playing soccer in Argentina

Many children in Argentina dream of a sporting career

Violence in professional football

The extent to which football culture needs to change is also evident in the emergence of other transgressions, such as violence and abuse. Time and time again, prominent players are accused of violence against women. Allegations were made against Colombian professional Sebastian Villa from Boca Juniors recently. It is said that he raped his ex-girlfriend. Villa denies the allegations. And his club responded with disinterest. Club legend Juan Roman Riquelme, now a member of the governing body, saw no reason to intervene, instead praising the player’s exemplary behavior in training and on the pitch.

Paula Ojeda is already seeing the first signs of a change in Argentine football culture: “The media is now also discussing when a player is convicted of gender-based violence.” However, the goal should be to significantly improve prevention in order to avoid situations to avoid sexual assault, harassment or violence inside and outside institutions.

Tobias Quiver – Buenos Aires / Zaman Al-Badri


#Argentine #football #Messi #dark #sides #26.08.2022

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