Manchester United 'were unaware' coach Geoff Konopka was a paedophile
Manchester United invited their former women’s team coach to Old Trafford as ‘guest of honour’ and celebrated his career despite him being a convicted paedophile: Club ‘were unaware’ Geoff Konopka served time for 19 historic offences against teen girls
- Konopka was convicted of indecent assault and gross indecency against girls
- He was sentenced to in prison in 2011 and put on the sex offenders’ register
Manchester United was allegedly unaware that celebrated women’s coach Geoff Konopka was a convicted paedophile when they invited him to the club as a special guest last year.
Konopka, who was in charge of the Manchester United Ladies from 1983 until 2001, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of indecent assault and gross indecency against girls aged under 16 and 14, The Times reported. He was also put on the sex offenders’ register for a decade.
But last year he was invited by the club to visit as a ‘special guest’ during a match that was attended by thousands of children and was celebrated for his early involvement in women’s football.
United commemorated his career and featured him in the Old Trafford museum even though he had an ‘active suspension’ on the Football Association’s safeguarding system, which banned him from coaching or working with any team.
The club has now revealed it ‘will have no further connection’ with Konopka, 79, and reportedly contacted the legal and football authorities ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Konopka, who was in charge of the Manchester United Ladies from 1983 until 2001, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2011
Konopka attended a Women’s Super League game in March last year where he watched United face off against Everton at home. He was invited as the club’s special guest, alongside a former United Ladies player.
But now the former players have demanded a public apology from Konopka was painting him as ‘the “hero” behind their sporting achievements’ and for allowing him to attend the game as a ‘guest of honour’, according to the newspaper.
The March match is understood to have broken attendance records with more than 20,000 fans having turned up to support the club – many of whom were young girls watching with their parents.
Several former United Ladies players alerted the club of Konopka’s convictions and sent emails to the club’s safeguarding co-ordinator after he was featured in promotional article on United’s website in July.
The women documented their ‘shock’ and ‘disgust’ as he was, as they claim, ‘paraded hand-in-hand with Manchester United’. The players also disputed how United portrayed their treatment, claiming it was actually a ‘misogynistic’ and ‘woman-hating club’.
They alleged that Konopka had made them feel uncomfortable when he was managing the side, with one claiming he would enter the changing rooms without first knocking. He strongly denied the allegation, describing it as a ‘pack of lies’, the newspaper reported.
The players also claimed that during the 80s and 90s they were denied footballs for training and proper kits during matches.
They said they were forced to pay for their own club tracksuits, kits and coach travel to matches – including when they played at Wembley.
Additionally, the women alleged they were provided substandard medical equipment for treating their injuries.
Konopka has acknowledged that he served prison time for the offences
Konopka had acknowledged that he served prison time for the offences, which he claimed were ‘historical’ and occurred about 30 years before he was sentenced. This would mean the crimes took place before he was associated with the club.
‘I never, ever entered the dressing room without knocking and never entered before I knew that everyone was changed and decent,’ he told the newspaper
He also claimed there were ‘never any arguments with United over training balls’ and alleged that the players’ travel to Wembley was paid for by the Football Association.
The article highlighting Konopka’s successes was deleted on Tuesday and all mention of the former manager has reportedly been erased from museum displays.
United has insisted there were ‘no breaches of its safeguarding obligations’ and has expressed its ‘heartfelt sympathy’ the victims of Konopka’s crimes.
The club said in a statement to the newspaper: ‘Manchester United has recently received information around these convictions, and as a matter of urgency has been in contact with the relevant legal and football authorities to substantiate the facts.
‘The club has taken appropriate action after receiving this information and will have no further connection with the individual. Manchester United expresses its heartfelt sympathy to the victims and all those affected by these abhorrent crimes.’
MailOnline has approached the club for comment.
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