2019-11-06 04:18:03

Authorities in eastern China’s Jiangsu province have issued an arrest warrant for a soccer coach accused of molesting members of the provincial female youth soccer team, according to an official statement.

The Jiangsu People’s Procuratorate said Saturday that the coach, Chen Guanghong, has been charged with “indecent assault and molesting children.” In early September, an anonymous user on microblogging platform Weibo who claimed to be a parent of one of the players shared photos of a letter cosigned by five parents accusing Chen of molesting one of the players on the soccer team of 13- to 15-year-old girls.

Sixth Tone’s repeated phone calls to the Jiangsu Jiangning Football Training Base in the provincial capital of Nanjing, where Chen coaches, went unanswered Tuesday. The Weibo user had not responded to Sixth Tone’s interview request by time of publication Wednesday, and further attempts to reach Chen were unsuccessful.

The parents who cowrote the letter claimed that Chen often “verbally insulted and slapped players” during training sessions. They also alleged that the coach would “bait” girls into undressing for him in exchange for more prominent roles on the team.

One of the alleged incidents occurred at Danyang Yunyang School, where a group of 12 players had gathered for a training session in June, financial news outlet Caixin reported Sunday, citing a parent of a 13-year-old player. The parent told the media outlet that Chen had asked their daughter to come to his dorm room for “a private talk,” where he told her to undress in exchange for a key position on the field. He also allegedly asked her to “be his girlfriend.”

The letter posted in September emboldened another former player to come forward, accusing the coach of molesting her in December 2016. In a  series of text messages to the anonymous Weibo user who shared the letter, the player said Chen had threatened to expel her from the team if she refused to undress in front of him. Though she managed to rebuff him that night, she was transferred from her starting position to the bench the following day, according to screenshots of the messages posted on Weibo.

The parents who composed the letter further accused Chen and assistant coach Ling Yuyang of extorting financial gifts from families and withholding provincially issued cash stipends for the players. However, after the police investigation, Chen returned the money, saying the coaches had been using the funds for “birthday celebrations and clothes” for the girls, according to Caixin.

The parents said they reported the incident to the provincial discipline inspection commission and the provincial sports bureau in September. The 13-year-old girl, along with her parents, filed a complaint at the local public security bureau in Danyang the same month. The reports prompted the official investigation and the coach’s eventual arrest.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Ingram/VCG)