A football coach accused of sexual abuse of female players under his charge has been barred from coaching and other activities relating to the sport. Criminal proceedings have also been initiated against the coach, Brazilian national Getulio Aurelio Fredo, who was women's team coach at top flight Meistriliiga team Nõmme Kalju FC, following the story coming to media attention just over a week ago.
The Estonian Football League's (EJL) disciplinary committee issued a statement saying: "We thank all those who have cooperated with us in the disciplinary proceedings. Your courage deserves recognition. In the course of the proceedings, in addition to what has been reported in the press so far, we have collected important additional information that we will not disclose to protect the confidentiality of individuals, including information about the same period that the prosecutor's office has now begun to investigate, that is up until the year 2019.
"We emphasize that the procedure was conducted in accordance with the rules of the EJL, according to which all parties were given the opportunity to present their views, while the initial deadline set for this was extended. Of course, the football association, as a sports organization, predominantly reviews violations through ethics in its proceedings, and a police investigation, where compliance with laws is checked, is another matter altogether," the statement continued, according to BNS.
The matter came to light after one of the alleged victims, Mia Belle Trisna, took her story to commercial TV station Kanal 2's "Õhtu" current affairs show. Trisna said that the defendant had subjected her to sexual abuse over a lengthy period of time, starting in 2007 when she was 14 years old. Others have also come forward since then.
The age of consent in Estonia, however, stands at 14, though the girls in question still qualify as minors since they were under 18 at the time of the alleged offenses. This anomaly has led to calls for the consent age to be raised, with the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) tabling a bill during the week aimed at doing just that (to 16.).
The age gap between Trisna and the suspect, who was 52 at the time, has also been cited as a factor.
The North District Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday that it had initiated criminal proceedings against Getulio Aurelio Fredo on the basis of information received from the EJL, adding that and was investigating episodes in the period 2014-2019, a time-frame when two victims have been identified so far.
The segment of the Penal Code concerning sexual intercourse or other sexual acts between an adult and a minor if in cases where accused has taken advantage of the alleged victim's dependence on the offender, or has abused any influence or trust, BNS reports.
The relevant section of the EJL's disciplinary code is section 4.1 which refers to principles of loyalty, honesty, sportsmanship and ethics, and section 4.3.7, which deals with general good standards and practices.
The EJL's disciplinary committee says it has also found a breach in the coches' code of ethics on the part of Aurelio, following statements he has made in the press, which the EJL says tarnishes Estonian football's reputation.
Aurelio appeared a week ago to the day on "Otse Postimehest," a live broadcast from the offices of daily Postimees, to give his side of the story. Kanal 2 is part of the same media group.
The EJL invites those with information on the matter or similar situations to email them, where anonymity will be guaranteed.
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has also set up its own dedicated email address, which can lead to victim support and investigation of cases.
Nõmme Kalju FC maintains it was unaware of the incidents prior to media reports appearing.
Editor: Andrew Whyte