Former Barcelona Youth Chief Benaiges Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors, Report Says
08:06 GMT 12.12.2021 (Updated: 18:47 GMT 19.10.2022)
The coach is considered to be responsible for discovering several major talents, bringing Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and others through to the first team.
The ex-chief of Barcelona's youth system, Albert Benaiges, is facing accusations of sexual abuse of children, according to the Catalan newspaper Ara.
The report suggested, citing witnesses, that Benaiges, who was a PE teacher at a school in the Les Corts neighbourhood of Barcelona in the 1980s and 1990s, exposed himself to 13-year-old boys, touched them, forced them to undress in front of classmates, and showed them adult videos.
In total, there are 60 witnesses to his actions, and at least one of the students has made a formal statement to the police, the newspaper added.
Benaiges has since addressed the report, denying all the claims.
"I have never hurt anyone and if I have done it hasn't been intentionally", he told Ara. "I have an adopted son and four foster children; my conscience is very clear, I have never forced anybody and I have denounced paedophiles".
According to Catalan Minister for Education Josep González Cambray, officials in his department have opened an investigation into the alleged abuse.
Benaiges was a coach at the Barca academy from 1992 to 2012, and returned to the club this April, becoming academy director. However, earlier this month, he announced his resignation citing personal issues. Ara suggested, that he was forced to quit when the club was informed about the sexual abuse accusations.