Soccer and sexual violence

A few hours after the conviction of four years in prison against Santi Mina for sexual abuse, issued by the Provincial Court of Almería, was known, the Celta de Vigo club in which he plays erased all traces of the footballer on the web and removed him from the trainings. The statement made public by Celta announced the start of a disciplinary proceeding to “clarify their work responsibilities” after the conviction. In a “precautionary” manner and only “provisionally” the player is separated from his professional activity although he continues under the discipline of the club, with a contract in force until June 2024. The sentence is especially clear when considering “resounding” and “totally coherent” the The victim’s testimony about the events that occurred in Mojácar (Almería) in June 2017, and underlines “multiple and different objective data” that corroborate the woman’s version. Faced with this, the judge highlights the “little credibility” of the sentenced person’s story and the contradictory versions of it. The victim’s lawyer plans to appeal the sentence to obtain a conviction for sexual assault (which would double the sentence), and not for abuse, in addition to requesting the player’s entry into provisional prison, while the defense lawyer has announced an appeal.

In recent years, progress has been made in all areas against violence against women, but it is still difficult for football clubs and their fans to take unequivocal steps in this direction. The decision to quickly remove the player from the public scene breaks that tradition between exculpatory and permissive that the world of football has used to have with sports icons followed by tens of thousands of citizens. The good news that women’s football has offered in recent times, with the absolute full of large stadiums, collides with stubborn and offensive attitudes, including episodes as serious as the incitement of a coach to his players, encouraging them to gang rape as an act of self-assertive virility. Having downplayed that repulsive leisure plan as a mere “macho joke” makes things worse, and the coach continues in his position. Nor have they forgotten the songs with which hundreds of Betis fans supported a player in 2015 for whom the Prosecutor’s Office then requested – he was finally acquitted – two years for mistreating and threatening his ex-girlfriend.

In this case, the exemplarity of the club has been halfway between the protection of its business interests and its obligation to suspend the continuity of a player with a conviction, and very explicit, for sexual abuse. The club’s lack of determination leaves the uncertain trail of a tactical decision inconsistent with the values ​​it claims to defend. The explanations have been insufficient to understand why the player has been erased from the sports map, on the field and on the web, but he continues in the squad.

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Soccer and sexual violence