Twenty-four of Venezuela’s top football players, including Atletico Madrid striker Deyna Castellanos, on Tuesday denounced what they said was sexual abuse by their former coach Kenneth Zseremeta, whom they described as a “monster” in a statement posted on social media.
“Last year, one of our teammates confessed to us that she had been sexually abused since the age of 14 by the coach,” said the statement, signed by 24 players and posted on social networks by Castellanos, who was among the top three players in the world in 2017.
They did not identify the victim, who said the abuse had begun in 2014.
“We have decided to break the silence to prevent physical, psychological and sexual abuse and harassment committed by the football coach Kenneth Zseremeta from creating other victims in women’s football and in football,” the statement said.
It said that after the first player’s revelations, “various teammates spoke of experiences of harassment, abnormal questions and invitations, blackmail to remain in the selection, requests for gifts out of context, massages and others.”
The players claimed that some members of the coaching staff had enabled the abuse, and said that “many of us are still suffering from trauma and mental injuries.”
Panamanian-born Zseremeta led several Venezuelan national teams from 2008 to 2017, winning the South American Under-17 title twice and qualifying the age group for the Worlds three times, with two semi-finalist finishes in 2013 and 2016.
He was sacked in 2017 after claiming his players were suffering malnutrition as Venezuela faced a food shortage following an economic and financial crisis.
After leaving Venezuela, he worked in the Dominican Republic and Panama.
The players called on “all relevant people — FIFA, confederations, federations and leagues — not to allow this ‘coach’ to continue his life in women’s football.”
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