Chauvinism, poverty, loneliness lead to child abuse in soccer schools
Judicial authorities in Argentina said that there are seven "confirmed" cases of abuse so far and that they are looking into at least 10 more.
Machismo, poverty, and loneliness make child soccer players more vulnerable to sexual abuse, experts told EFE on Sunday in the wake of the recent cases of molestation that have shaken the Independiente and River Plate youth soccer clubs in Argentina.
According to Diego Murzi, vice president of the NGO Salvemos al Futbol (Let's Save Soccer), the lack of a "protective framework" in the youth academies - each of which houses and trains around 50 kids ages 11 to 18 - is a contributing factor to child abuse, along with poverty and neglect.
Murzi commented on the vast differences between Argentina's youth academies and their French counterparts, citing Olympique du Marseille as having 30 to 40 pros working with the same number of children, whereas local clubs have only two or three pros.
Luciana Peker, a journalist specializing in gender issues, said that molesters take advantage of the children's vulnerabilities and professional expectations, adding that there is a stigma hanging over males regarding the relationship between child abuse and homosexuality.
She said that the fact that many have spoken out is due to the awareness raised by the feminist movement, adding that the abuse is a product of the "patriarchy, chauvinism and rape culture."
Agustin Arispe, coordinator of Argentina's Provisional Attention Center said that the collusion among adults who either perpetrate the abuse or know about it is an important part of the nature of child abuse.
He added that children do not always acknowledge that they are being abused and, when they do, they fear being labeled homosexuals or missing out on a career in sports if they speak out.
Like Murzi and Peker, Arispe believes that poverty and the lack of a sound family structure make kids - whose parents often hope they make it in soccer to pull them out of destitution - more vulnerable to molestation.
"We must open the clubs' youth academies because they usually resemble cloisters," he said. "Nobody knows what goes on in them."
Judicial authorities said in a press conference on Wednesday that there are seven "confirmed" cases of abuse so far and that they are looking into at least 10 more.