Qatar World Cup: Iceland’s football fairytale tarnished by scandal

Minnows Iceland Football World Cup team became the darlings of the football world when they beat England to reach the Euro 2016 quarterfinals and then qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but the fairytale has been tainted by a sexual assault scandal rocking the tiny nation.

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Iceland, a country of 370,000, was stunned and angered last month by revelations of sexual assault and harassment after 25-year-old Thorhildur Gyda Arnarsdottir accused the Iceland Football World Cup squad player of grabbing her by the crotch and neck and making obscene remarks at a Reykjavik nightclub in 2017.

The player was later identified as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, the national side’s joint-highest scorer of all time with 26 goals. Arnarsdottir also said she knew of at least six other players involved in assaults. The Icelandic Football Association (KSI) has been accused of inaction.

Following the revelations, KSI belatedly admitted it was informed this summer of a gang rape that allegedly occurred in 2010, and of other accusations against other players. In a nation that regularly ranks highly in women’s rights, Prime Minister Katr-n Jakobsdottir, who is seeking re-election at the end of the month, said she was saddened to see that it took all of this to trigger this series of events.

Arnarsdottir chose to come forward with her account after KSI Chairman Gudni Bergsson said in a television interview the association had not been informed of any sexual assault allegations against players. To know more about Qatar world Cup Tickets click here.

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The scandal comes on top of the team’s woes on the pitch. Iceland Football World Cup team is second from bottom in its qualifying group for the Qatar World Cup 2022, ahead of Wednesday’s match with Germany. The team’s exploits at Euro 2016 led to the players becoming role models for young Icelanders who had been lacking local idols for years.

The mass of the movement shouldn’t suffer for the mistakes of a few, lamented Gislason. Football alone has over 30,000 participants (in Iceland) and it is sad when a few do not follow our goals of non-violence and non-discrimination.

The association has now appointed an external committee to ensure that notifications of inappropriate behavior are handled correctly. It’s a good thing that all those cases come to the surface, even though this is very difficult for many people so we can discuss them.

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