Two Norwegian professors are bashing the leadership of Stabæk Football Club near Oslo, and the national football organization is stepping in, after the club declined to fire the coach of its women’s football team even though he admitted to making inappropriate advances towards a female player. At least 10 other players also reportedly were the targets of similar advances.
Stabæk coach Øyvind Eide has admitted that he “may” have behaved badly and has since apologized to player Leni Larsen Kaurin, who went pubic with the case in local newspaper Asker og Bærum Budstikke. She’s disappointed, though, over what she calls the “cowardly” manner in which club management and her former team members have reacted to what she considers sexual harassment.
So are professors Gerd von der Lippe and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen, both experts on athletic sociology. “This is a tragic case for Stabæk, but it shows where the power lies,” von der Lippe told newspaper Dagsavisen on Thursday. “The male coach keeps his job while the whistle-blower doesn’t. The coach has the power, but he should also be responsible if someone feels harassed.”
Kaurin, a member of the national women’s football team that won silver at the European Championships last summer, revealed how Eide had pursued her, sent flowers, e-mail and even a “gift certificate” for erotic contact with him personally. He later said he was sorry if she felt offended by his advances.
“That’s politicians’ language,” scoffed von der Lippe. “He has clearly crossed the line and it went on for a year.” Sundgot-Borgen was also upset over the case, calling the club’s handling of it “a scandal.”
Now Norway’s national football federation NFF is asking for more information from all involved, telling newspaper Dagbladet that “we’re getting involved in this because of what’s come forth publicly.” NFF claims it has zero tolerance for sexual harassment. The club’s board said it has given Eide a written warning, the strongest disciplinary action it can take short of firing him.