Iceland's entire football association resigns after sexual assault scandal

·3-min read

The Icelandic Football Association's entire executive committee has resigned after it was accused of covering up a sex scandal involving an international player.

The president of the association had already quit on Sunday after criticism that he had played down the allegations of sexual assault.

But after an emergency meeting lasting nearly five hours, the remaining members of the committee in turn announced they were also stepping down from their posts.

"This result is in accordance with the challenges of Íslensk Toppfótbolti, the wishes of club representatives ... and pressure from the community," a statement read.

An extraordinary session to appoint a new president and executive committee is due to take place in the coming weeks.

The scandal broke when a 25-year-old woman told state television that she had filed a complaint after being sexually abused and harassed by an Icelandic international footballer at a nightclub in Reykjavík in September 2017.

The woman claimed that the player had admitted to the incident, apologised, and paid her a sum of money as compensation.

Iceland's Football Association (KSÍ) has faced backlash for denying that the highest level of the body knew about the incident, despite emails and testimonies proving the contrary.

KSÍ president Guðni Bergsson publicly apologised and claimed he thought it was a case of physical abuse, but eventually resigned after several crisis meetings.

Player also suspended by club

Icelandic media named the footballer involved as Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, who currently represents Swedish club IFK Göteborg.

In a statement on Monday, the club said that they took the allegations "very seriously" even if the case was legally closed.

"We have initiated a dialogue with the player about this to investigate which way we can take forward," said club director Håkan Mild.

"We want to make it clear that we distance ourselves from his behaviour and all similar behaviour."

In an updated statement, the Swedish club announced that Sigþórsson had been suspended from all first-team activities until further notice.

"An internal investigation is underway in order to make a decision on the way forward for IFK Göteborg as an employer and personally for Kolbeinn."

A statement released by the player's lawyer on Wednesday said that he "regretted the behaviour that [he] may have had at the time".

"I did not admit to harassing them or using violence and I denied my guilt. On the other hand, my behaviour was not exemplary and I apologised for it."

'We are going to fix things'

KSÍ said they would also hold meetings with representatives of UEFA and FIFA about the planned change of executive to make sure that football in Iceland could continue uninterrupted.

The body said they also conduct a review of their response to sexual offences and how to support victims.

"We know that we as guarantors have failed you and we intend to do better," a statement on Sunday read.

"We want to ensure that the responsibility for violence is placed in the right place, on the shoulders of the perpetrators and not the victims."

"We are going to fix the things that have gone wrong and look at the culture of the football movement that exists," they added.

"The football movement is part of society, and we as a society all need to do better in dealing with victims and fighting sexual violence."

Protesters held banners expressing solidarity with victims of sexual abuse outside the Laugardalsvöllur Stadium on Thursday before Iceland's FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying match against Romania.

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