A Greek sailing coach admitted on Friday that he had had what he called a “relationship” with an 11-year-old athlete in the latest twist in sexual abuse in sport.
Speaking anonymously to MEGA’s LiveNews show, the coach — who now lives on a Greek island — denied raping the 11-year-old athlete, claiming it was a “platonic” and consensual “relationship.”
The 38-year-old coach, who was fired after his “relationship” became known, said that he “wanted to marry” the girl, who is now 21-year-old young woman.
“I can not accept the word ‘rape’, because rape I believe is something that happens against the will of the other. When there is something reciprocal, I do not think there is rape,” he stated to the interviewer.
“On the contrary, the feelings I had and had manifested and we had agreed that when she grows up a little more we will get married,” he added.
The disgraced coach claimed that he waited until the girl turned 18 before asking her to marry him.
“I was waiting for her to grow up, to choose me on her own. I love her, how can I explain it to you?” he told Greek journalist Nikos Evaggelatos.
The shocking admission by the sailing coach has rocked Greek public opinion.
It follows the sensational revelations by Greek Olympian Sofia Bekatorou, who opened Pandora’s Box with her rape allegations against the Vice-President of the Hellenic Sailing Federation (EIO) last week.
The news came as a shock, as Bekatorou’s allegations brought to the surface a taboo issue that plagues not only the sports world but Greek society in general.
As more female athletes came forward and spoke out in what is now known as Greece’s #MeToo moment about being victims of sexual harassment in the past, politicians also laudably stepped forward, promising to tackle the issue that goes beyond the sports world.
Courage for speaking out
Earlier this week, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou praised the courage of Olympian sailor Sophia Bekatorou for speaking out against sexual abuse in sport.
Sakellaropoulou said that her meeting with Bekatorou at the Presidential Mansion in Athens was “a minimal recognition of the bravery and dignity with which she shared her traumatic experience.”
Sakellaropoulou said Bekatorou’s courage offered hope to other women who had suffered similar abuse in their personal and professional lives.
“To all those who carry their trauma silently for years, not daring to denounce it, because they know inwardly that they will be treated at best with pity or suspicion and at worst with contempt, ridicule, and even social stigma,” Sakellaropoulou said in a statement.