Football: Iceland federation board resigns en masse over sex assault scandal

KSI chairman Gudni Bergsson had already stepped down on Aug 29, 2021. PHOTO: GUDNI BERGSSON/FACEBOOK

REYKJAVIK (AFP) - The entire board of Iceland's football federation (KSI) has resigned after a woman accused it of covering up claims of alleged sexual assault by a national squad player.

KSI chairman Gudni Bergsson had already stepped down late on Sunday (Aug 29) and the association issued a statement acknowledging that its board had not handled the situation correctly.

Now, following an emergency five-hour session on Monday, the board's other 16 members resigned as well, KSI said in a statement later that day.

On Friday, Thorhildur Gyda Arnarsdottir, now 25, had told public broadcaster RUV that a member of the national team had grabbed her crotch and grabbed her by the neck, before assaulting her with another individual, in a Reykjavik nightclub in September 2017.

Arnarsdottir and another woman had filed police reports against a player for sexual assault that night.

She also said she knew of at least six other players who had been accused of sexual assaults by other women.

Several media have identified the player in question as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

Late on Monday, Sigthorsson's club in Sweden, IFK Gothenburg, confirmed in a statement that "one of our players" was implicated, without naming him explicitly.

At the time, "the player was reported to the police. The police investigation did not lead to any prosecution, but the parties agreed on a settlement," the statement said.

"IFK Gothenburg takes this very seriously even if the case in the legal sense is closed," said club director, Hakan Mild.

"We have an ongoing dialogue with the player about this to find out which way we can take forward. We want to clearly mark that we distance ourselves from his actions and all similar behaviours," Mild added.

Bergsson was found to have lied when he told national television that the association had "not received a complaint or any kind of suggestion that someone in particular has been guilty of sexual offences".

In a statement late on Sunday addressed to the victims, the board said: "We... believe you and sincerely apologise. We know that we as guarantors have let you down and we intend to do better."

"We take the matter very seriously. Work is already underway with external professionals to review all responses to sexual offences and violence within the association and how support was and will be provided to victims," the statement read.

It said it would "fix the things that have gone wrong and look at the culture that exists within the football movement from the bottom up".

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