A #MeToo Wave Hits Global Soccer as the Women’s World Cup Begins

This was the case, too, with the accusations of inappropriate behavior by Ahmad. In the most detailed accusation against him, a public relations consultant from Mali, Mariam Diakite, said she was fired by Ahmad for rejecting his advances. Although she was later reinstated after soccer officials intervened, she learned, after her incident was included in an ethics complaint filed with FIFA this year, that at least four other women had made similar claims.

Diakite, 34, said she had a confrontation with Ahmad in a hotel suite during a conference she was hired to organize in Rabat, Morocco, in 2017. He informed her he was terminating her because he had intimated to officials that the pair were in a romantic relationship, and that it would be a conflict of interest if she carried on working.

But Diakite said that while he sought one, there was no romantic relationship.

“He was refusing to let me work because I refused to marry him,” Diakite said. “When you are a president and you’ve got people whose dream is to work in football and you say, ‘Come to my room and I give you a job,’ is that not abuse of power?”

Ahmad, in response to questions from The New York Times about the incident with Diakite, called her accusations “smears on my character” and part of a personal vendetta against him that he said was being orchestrated by a former senior employee of the African soccer federation.

“They are lies,” he said.

Diakite said that as a woman with Muslim heritage, it was not easy to come forward, for cultural reasons but also because of pressure from some soccer insiders to remain quiet. Even now, she is reluctant to use the term “sexual harassment” to describe what she said happened to her, preferring to label it an abuse of his power.

The details of Ahmad’s conduct in Rabat are part of a dossier filed with FIFA’s ethics committee by Amr Fahmy, who had been the No. 2 official under Ahmad at the Confederation of African Football, which oversees the game on the continent, until he was ousted this year. Separately, two current federation staff members sent emails to FIFA’s secretary general, Fatma Samoura, a friend of Ahmad’s from her time as a United Nations official, outlining sexual harassment allegations. Those complaints have been forwarded to the ethics body, too.


Source link : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/07/sports/metoo-soccer-sexual-harassment.html

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Publish date : 2019-06-07 18:04:43

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