NEW YORK (AP) — Former Spanish star striker David Villa was accused of harassment by a former New York City FC intern, an accusation he denied.
The Major League Soccer team said it will investigate.
A person with the Twitter name Skyler B made the charge in posts on July 17.
“The harassment I went through at NYCFC was so bad that now the idea of professional sports terrifies me. Staying in the field of athletics terrifies me. I’m changing my entire career,” the person wrote. “I thought I was getting the opportunity of a life time when I got that internship. What I got was David Villa touching me every … day and my bosses thinking it was great comedic material.
“Women brave enough to tell their stories this loudly are my heroes. Someday. I still find it hilarious that I was constantly told I had a terrible attitude at that job like I wasn’t showing up everyday knowing I was gonna be groped or mocked or two hand shoved in the back.”
Villa refuted the charge in a statement Wednesday issued through his agency, VOS USA.
“These accusations are entirely false and I deny them,” he wrote. “I haven’t had any direct communication regarding this matter before, neither from Skyler B nor the club.”
“I never heard anything about these vague accusations from the club or anyone else until they were posted this past weekend,” he added. “I will fully cooperate with the Club as her general accusations also appear directed at the club. … It’s hard to understand why this was not raised previously if any one felt uncomfortable at any time while with the club.”
Villa, 38, played for NYC from 2015-18 after starring in Spain for Sporting Gijón, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. A member of Spain’s European champions in 2008 and World Cup champions in 2010, he scored a Spanish-record 59 goals in 98 international appearances from 2005-17.
New York City FC is controlled by City Football Group, the parent company of Manchester City.
“New York City Football Club has learned of the allegations made by a former intern by seeing them on social media,” the team said in a statement. “We take this matter extremely seriously and do not tolerate harassment of any kind in any areas of our organization. We immediately launched an investigation into the matter.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports