Iran minister orders probe into sexual assault of teen footballers

TEHRAN (AFP): Iran’s sports minister has ordered a probe into allegations of sexual assault targeting teenagers at a football academy in the country’s northeast, state media reported Saturday.

“A former media manager for the Shahr Khodro football team has claimed on social media that the parents of 15 players from this club and its academy have filed a complaint against the club and its coaches for sexually assaulting their children,” state news agency IRNA reported.

The report did not specify the gender of the minors targeted in the alleged assaults.

Shahr Khodro football club is based in the shrine city of Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city.

“Minister of Sports Hamid Sajadi two weeks ago ordered an investigation into reports of assault at a football academy for teenagers in Mashhad,” IRNA added.

Sajadi called for a “firm response” against those responsible for the incident, the agency added.

On Friday, the local newspaper Shahrara reported on its website that the families of players from the club had gathered outside the headquarters of the provincial football organization to protest the “tragedy.”

The families decided to bring the matter to the media when their protest failed to elicit a response, the daily added.

A similar controversy erupted in 2017 when an official in the Iranian football federation’s ethics committee said more than 10 teenage members of a club has been sexually assaulted.