BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentine prosecutor is to widen an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of young players at Argentine top-flight club Independiente, saying she believes such incidents may be happening at other soccer clubs.
Maria Soledad Garibaldi last week opened an inquiry into reports that youth players were forced into prostitution by a 19-year-old player at Independiente, one of Argentina’s most successful clubs.
“I am sure there are more cases and that this didn’t just happen at Independiente,” Garibaldi told local radio on Monday. “It’s possible that they are operating in other clubs and in amateur football.”
Independiente, who raised the alarm with police after a teenage player told a club psychologist about the scheme, are cooperating fully with the investigation, the club said in a statement last week.
Garibaldi said on Monday three players had come forward to confirm the abuse since Independiente reported its suspicions last Thursday and another 60 would be heard this week.
The victims were said to be boys aged 15 and 16 who came to the club’s youth teams from cities in the interior of Argentina. They were housed at a club facility on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where the older player coerced them into sex acts.
Independiente on Monday declined to comment on the widening of the investigation.
Independiente is one of Argentina’s most successful soccer teams, having won the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of Europe’s Champions League, a record seven times.
Writing Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris