Emelie Asplund was sent by Dagens Nyheter to cover Paraguay’s warm-up match against Denmark last Saturday. After the match she was asleep in her hotel room when the phone rang. It was 1am.
The caller was Manuel Hoffman, Fifa’s team liaison officer for the Paraguayan squad, who had interpreted during some interviews earlier in the day.
“He said that a player from the team wanted to meet me right away, in the middle of the night – so he could get to know me better,” said Asplund.
Not tempted by the offer, Asplund went back to sleep. But the following day her colleague, reporter Maria Nordström, challenged Manuel Hoffman.
“When I asked him what he was playing at he apologised. He said it was hard to refuse when someone asks and a whole group of guys are standing around him,” said Nordström.
Later on he apologised to Emelie Asplund and said it was sometimes hard to know where to draw the line in the job.
According to the Fifa code of ethics, “while discharging their duties, Officials shall under no circumstances act in a discriminatory manner, especially in terms of…gender. They shall also pledge to behave in a dignified manner”.
When Dagens Nyheter spoke to Manuel Hoffman he said that there was nothing strange in making a call to help a player. However, he refused to comment on the specific phone call to Emelie Asplund.
Nor did he reveal which player was enamoured with the Swede.
Whoever it was, he will have the opportunity to experience a bit of rough and tumble with a whole bunch of Swedes on June 15th, when Paraguay meet Sweden in the second group match for the two nations.
Paraguay’s opening game is against England on June 10th.