Israeli coach Grant faces FIFA case over sexual harassment

FILE - Avram Grant, then Chelsea head coach, considers a question during a news conference at the Chelsea training ground, in Cobham, Britain, May 9, 2008. Grant has been accused in a new investigative report of sexually harassing multiple women. Israel's Channel 12 TV on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2022, broadcast a series of interviews with women saying that Grant had made unwanted advances while offering to help promote their careers. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi, File) (Tom Hevezi, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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

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

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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 an Arab Legends side.

“Given the nature of the allegations being made, FIFA’s ethics committee will look into 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 that Grant, who is 66, attempted to touch and kiss the women against their will, tried to coerce them into sex and hinted he could harm their careers if they did not cooperate. The women included a recently released soldier, a fashion model and a female sports broadcaster who said he sent her numerous harassing text messages. She said his behavior was well known in the industry.

The former soldier said she met Grant shortly after her release from the army 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, she said Grant told her to take off her clothes. She said she thought he was joking, but he approached her and tried to hug her. She said he did not stop.

“He put his hand on my thigh, I remember I immediately moved it,” she said. “After chatting for a few seconds, he grabbed me by the neck, like he was choking me, turned my head to him and tried to forcefully kiss me.”

Grant served as manager of Chelsea from 2007 to 2008, leading the club into the Champions League finals before losing in a shootout to Manchester United. He has also coached Portsmouth and West Ham, and coached the national teams of Israel and Ghana.

Grant was not immediately reachable for comment. But in a statement to Channel 12, he said has always tried to treat anyone he meets with respect.

“I never meant to act unfairly or to hurt any woman in any way,” he said. “Anyone who felt uncomfortable or was hurt by me, I’m sorry for that and apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

___ Harris is the AP's global soccer writer.

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