From Iceland — Icelandic Football Association Under Fire Over Reported Sexual Assaults

Icelandic Football Association Under Fire Over Reported Sexual Assaults

Published August 29, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by

UPDATE: KSÍ has announced that director Guðni Bergsson has resigned from his position. Full story follows.

Public pressure is mounting towards the entire board of the Icelandic Football Association (KSÍ) over reported sexual assaults committed by a number of footballers within their ranks, as well as public denials made by KSÍ director Guðni Bergsson (above) that KSÍ never received any reports of sexual assaults within their ranks, which later turned out to be untrue. The board reportedly met last night to discuss the matter but has still not yet arrived at a decision.

Assault admitted, payment offered

Þórhildur Gyða Arnarsdóttir told RÚV that she was in a club one night in September 2017 when a famed member of the national football team reportedly grabbed her crotch, and would later grab her by the neck and an assault then occurred involving another individual. After being treated for her injuries, she filed a report with the police the following day, with another woman who was also assaulted by the same person.

While nothing came of the police investigation, six months later, Þórhildur’s father intended to participate in a friendly match that would involve Þórhildur’s assailant. He emailed KSÍ about the matter, and both of Þórhildur’s parents were reportedly contacted by Guðni. Þórhildur’s father also contacted the President of Iceland over the matter, who responded by saying that he had spoken with the KSÍ director and brought this up as well.

Þórhildur says she was contacted by a lawyer for KSÍ, who offered that she meet with the board.

“He asked whether I was ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement and receive monetary restitution,” Þórhildur said. “And I naturally said no. I still received another phone call from another lawyer who invited me to a meeting where the national team member wanted to apologise.” The footballer in question reportedly “denied nothing. He apologised and admitted what he did to me. He cast doubt on nothing.”

Directly contradicting KSÍ director statements

This directly contradicts statements made by Guðni on the roundtable discussion show Kastljósið on Thursday evening.

When asked directly if any sexual assaults had been reported to the board before, Guðni responded: “No, not really in a formal sense. We have not received, not really, complaints or any kind of indications that anyone was guilty of sexual assault.”

Þórhildur told reporters that this statement came as a shock to her.

“I am extremely, extremely surprised by this,” she said. “I find this disrespectful towards me and my family.”

At least six others reportedly accused of sexual assault

Speaking with Stöð 2 news, Þórhildur says that at least six other members of the national team have been accused of sexual assault.

“I know that there are other examples, unfortunately,” she said. “There are more survivors, and in my estimation there are far too many of us, as there shouldn’t be anyone who has had to endure these men. But there are more, yes. Six or seven, and that includes both current and former members of the national team.”

Þórhildur believes these men should face charges and be removed from the national team.

“And that KSÍ does not knowingly pick violent men for their team,” she added. “This board is incompetent on this. So in order to make this happen, it would be best to get a new board as a whole.”

Calls for resignation

Þórhildur is not alone in this opinion. Hanna Björg Vilhjálmsdóttir, chair of the equality committee of the National Teachers’ Association, says that trust in KSÍ has imploded over the matter, and that the best course of action to regain that trust would be for the entire board to resign.

Íslenskur toppfótbolti, a special interests group in football, told reporters that they want KSÍ to “shoulder responsibility” on the matter, and Minister of Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir has said that “it is quite clear that there needs to be changes made.”

The KSÍ board reportedly held a meeting which lasted well into the night, and they intend to meet again today. Who, if anyone, will resign over this case remains to be seen.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!