Venezuelan prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for former Venzeulean soccer coach Kenneth Zseremeta and William Pino, Zseremtas’s former assistant, after allegations of sexual misconduct. This warrant comes after 24 athletes from the national team accused Zseremeta of sexual and mental abuse in a bombshell statement that former soccer player Deyna Castellanos posted.
Among the allegations were claims of sexual abuse against one of the players when she was only 14 years of age. The letter states the abuse continued for years until Zseremeta was fired in 2017 after poor results, though it does not name the player specifically. Pino has denied the allegations.
Other allegations include sexual insinuations, unwanted messages, and comments on physical appearance. And that was for the team’s heterosexual players. The players who identified as LGBTQ+ reported Zseremeta would threaten to out them to their parents if they didn’t compete to his standards.
Zseremeta has denied the allegations in a statement released last week, saying, “I constitutionally accept the presumption of my innocence until proven otherwise.”
He added that only 24 women out of almost 600 athletes in the league made accusations. He says that when he left Venezuela after nearly a decade of working with the national female football youth teams, he did so without a “criminal record.”
For its part, the Venezuelan soccer federation issued its own statement in support of the players. Additionally, a letter was sent to FIFA requesting an immediate investigation and asked that Coach Zseremeta not be permitted to hold a job within the soccer community worldwide.
“Many people might ask why it took us so long to say this,” said the statement from Venezuelan player Deyna Castellanos. “This process has not been easy for us, but we have come to understand that as victims of abuse, it is important to raise our voice, to defend the honor of our teammates, and for a person like this to never have the power to harm another girl or woman.”