Israeli coach Avram Grant faces FIFA case over sexual harassment

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Avram Grant, former manager of the Chelsea football club and one of the most powerful men in Israeli sport, is to be investigated by FIFA after being accused of sexually harassing multiple women in an investigative report.

“Exposure,” a program on Israel’s TV Channel 12, aired a series of interviews Sunday with women who said Grant had made unwelcome advances while offering to help them promote their careers. The women’s voices were altered and their faces silhouetted to protect their identities.

Grant’s enduring status in the game was recognized in December by world soccer’s governing body, which asked him to coach a FIFA World Legends team featuring retired stars and FIFA president Gianni Infantino for a match in Qatar against a team from Arab Legends.

“Given the nature of the allegations, the FIFA ethics committee will investigate the matter,” FIFA said in a statement to The Associated Press.

“When it comes to misconduct and abuse in football, we wish to reiterate that FIFA takes any allegations reported to it very seriously.” The broadcast said Grant, 66, tried to touch and kiss the women against his will, tried to force them to have sex and suggested he could harm their careers if they didn’t cooperate.

The women included a recently released soldier, a model and a sports presenter who said he sent her numerous harassing text messages. She said that her behavior was well known in the industry.

The former soldier said she met Grant shortly after his release from the military in the summer of 2020. She said he invited her to his Tel Aviv apartment with an offer to help her find a job.

Shortly after entering, he said Grant told him to take off his clothes. She said that she thought he was joking, but he walked over to her and tried to hug her. She said that he didn’t stop.

“He put his hand on my thigh, I remember I immediately moved it,” he said.

“After chatting for a few seconds, he grabbed me by the neck, as if I was drowning, turned my head towards him and tried to kiss me hard.” Grant served as Chelsea manager from 2007 to 2008, leading the club to the Champions League final before losing on penalties to Manchester United. He also coached Portsmouth and West Ham and coached the Israel and Ghana national teams.

Grant was not immediately available for comment. But speaking to Channel 12, he said that he has always tried to treat everyone he meets with respect.

“I never wanted to act unfairly or hurt any woman in any way,” she said.

“Anyone who felt uncomfortable or hurt by me, I’m sorry and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

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