Albert Benaiges, ex Barcelona coach, accused of child sex abuse

Albert Benaiges, former director of Barcelona’s youth teams, has been accused by more than 60 witnesses of sexually abusing former students he taught at a public school in Barcelona, according to the Catalan newspaper ARA, via The Guardian.

Benaiges, 71, is accused of having sexually abused students while he was a physical education teacher at the school in the 1980s and 1990s. One accuser has made a formal statement to the police, according to the newspaper, which reports more will likely follow.

The allegations — which Benaiges has reportedly denied — include “exposing himself to boys and girls at the school, touching children, making them undress in front of classmates and masturbating with them while watching pornographic videos,” the newspaper reported.

Authorities in northeastern Spain will reportedly open an investigation into the allegations.

“I have never hurt anyone and if I have done it hasn’t been intentionally,” Benaiges told ARA, according to the Guardian. “I have an adopted son and four foster children; my conscience is very clear, I have never forced anybody and I have denounced pedophiles.”

The news came after Benaiges resigned from Barcelona as academy director last week for reported personal reasons.

“Barcelona completely support the possible victims that have suffered these reprehensible acts that have been reported at [a school in] Barcelona,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Sunday in a statement, according to ESPN.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club is collaborating with police investigating sexual abuse claims against Albert Benaiges.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club is collaborating with police investigating sexual abuse claims against Albert Benaiges.
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“We are collaborating with the police with complete transparency to clarify if any of these acts took place at our club. We will always protect and defend minors and their families.

“Barca stand alongside those that suffer injustices and violence. We are not going to hide from this. If any case is detected at the club, we will deal with it with complete transparency, while always supporting those affected and their families.”

Players who Benaiges coached at Barcelona academy from 1992 to 2012 are not included in the allegations. He returned to Barcelona in April, following stints with clubs abroad.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said he is “surprised and stunned” over the allegations against his former coach.

“I don’t have any information that there have been any type of these episodes, although that does not mean that they did not happen,” Xavi said at a pre-match press conference. “He was my coach and I never had any suspicions. I am very surprised and stunned, I didn’t expect it.

“This is a very delicate, very complicated issue. I have spoken with the coaching staff because we love Albert Benaiges very much. It has surprised us a lot. We always had an excellent relationship, and he left a very good legacy. It is the justice system that will have to decide.”