Coach jailed for groping girls at football cup

Coach jailed for groping girls at football cup
The 36-year-old football coach in court. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
A 36-year-old soccer coach accused of 'groping' teenage girls at Sweden's Gothia Cup youth football tournament has been locked up for two months by a Gothenburg district court.

The man, who was coaching a team from a North African country, has also been made to pay 11,200 kronor ($1316) in damages to each of the three girls affected. 

The coach, who denied the crime, was accused of sexually harassing three girls aged around 16 in the crowd outside Gothenburg’s Ullevi stadium after the opening ceremony of the tournament on July 18th.

According to witnesses he kissed the girls, groped them and put his tongue into one of their mouths. 

The three girls were not present at the main trial hearing. Their testimony was recorded during an inquiry then played in the courtroom.

The man’s lawyer said that he and his client will discuss a likely appeal.

“I feel quite certain that we will appeal,” Fredrik Engström told newspaper Göteborgs Posten

The prosecutor however was satisfied with the verdict.

“It is in line with what I have called for. The girls’ story was strong and sufficient for a conviction,” Stefan Lind told GP.

According to Gothenburg-based tabloid GT, the presiding judge wanted to impose a more lenient conditional sentence without the requirement of paying damages, but was overruled by the court's lay judges.

Also known as The World Youth Cup, the Gothia Cup is organized by Gothenburg top flight club BK Häcken. Around 1600 teams from 80 different countries visit the Swedish city for the competition every year.

Although the coach in question was the only member of his team formally suspected of a criminal offence, Gothia Cup bosses took the decision to expel the entire side from the tournament.