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Argentina: Footballers detained in sexual assault probe

March 19, 2024

Four Argentinian first division footballers stand accused of raping a woman in a hotel room earlier in March. At least one player denies the allegations.

Velez Sarsfield midfielder Jose Florentin in action against Brazilian side Flamengo
Velez Sarsfield midfielder Jose Florentin (right) is one of the accused playersImage: Bruna Prado/AP Photo/picture alliance

Four professional footballers from Argentinian premier division football club Velez Sarsfield were provisionally taken into custody on Monday as part of an investigation into allegations they raped a female sports journalist in a hotel room earlier in March.

The four players — Uruguayan goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa (37), Paraguayan midfielder Jose Florentin (27) and Argentines Braian Cufre (27, defender) and Abiel Osorio (21, striker) — were ordered to be detained for 48 hours until a judge decides whether they should remain under arrest pending the investigation.

What are the allegations against the Velez players?

The plaintiff, a 24-year-old sports reporter, alleges she was invited by Sosa to a hotel room in Tucuman in the north of Argentina, where Velez had drawn 0-0 with Atletico Tucuman on March 2, where the other three men were also waiting.

She said she had a few drinks, felt dizzy, lay down on a bed and was then raped.

The woman's defense said the case was classified as "sexual assault with aggravated intercourse by two or more persons."

In a televised statement, her lawyer Patricia Neme said there were "sufficient elements to request pre-trial detention" as the four footballers had "sufficient means" to flee if they wanted to avoid trial.

Another prosecuting lawyer, Juan Robles, said: "The prosecutor announced that the four people who had come to this trial as defendants were going to be remanded in custody."

Velez suspend players, goalkeeper denies allegations

Veteran goalkeeper Sosa denied the allegations on his Instagram account on March 8, writing: "I repudiate violence of any kind. I respect the physical and sexual integrity of every person. I trust in the swift action of justice."

His three teammates are yet to comment.

Velez Sarsfield, from the western Buenos Aires suburb of Liniers, said in a statement on Monday it had suspended the four players' contracts and ordered an internal investigation.

"The Club reiterates its deepest concern about the reported events, which are clearly contrary to the principles and values of our institution," it said.

Velez Sarsfield are one of the most successful football clubs in Argentina, having won 10 league titles, most recently in 2013 with Sosa in goal.

In 1994, they won the South American continental Copa Libertadores, going on to beat European Champions League winners AC Milan in the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo.

mf/msh (AFP, Reuters)