Former Barcelona football club youth coach investigated for allegations of school sex abuse


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Barcelona head coach Xavi has expressed surprise at allegations the former manager of the club's youth teams has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of former public school students.

Matthias Schrader / AP

Barcelona head coach Xavi has expressed surprise at allegations the former manager of the club’s youth teams has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of former public school students.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández is “surprised and stunned” that the former manager of Barcelona’s youth teams has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of former students at a public school where he also worked.

Xavi spoke on Saturday shortly after authorities in northeastern Spain announced they were opening an investigation after ARA newspaper reported that more than 60 of his former students accuse Albert Benaiges of having them sexually assaulted while teaching physical education in a public school in Barcelona. ARA said Benaiges has denied any wrongdoing.

It appears that none of the former Barcelona players have joined in the accusations.

Benaiges, 71, was a key member of Barcelona’s youth training academy from 1991 to 2011, coinciding with a generation of the club’s top players including Andrés Iniesta and Xavi.

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A general view of the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona.  The Spanish club are yet to comment on the allegations against their former director of the youth teams.

Alex Caparros / Getty Images

A general view of the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. The Spanish club are yet to comment on the allegations against their former director of the youth teams.

After stints abroad in foreign clubs, Benaiges returned to Barcelona last year following the return of Joan Laporta to his presidency. He resigned last week, apparently for personal reasons.

“I have no information that there was any type of these episodes, although that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen,” Xavi said at a press conference at pre-game routine. “He was my coach and I never had any suspicions. I am very surprised and stunned, I did not expect it.

“It’s a very delicate, very complicated question,” added Xavi. “I spoke with the technical staff because we like Albert Benaiges a lot. It surprised us a lot. We have always had a great relationship and he left a great legacy. It is justice that will have to decide.

Barcelona have yet to comment publicly on the investigation.

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