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Chairman of top French football side detained over sexual harassment claims

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 28, 2019 in Angers shows SCO Angers’ president Said Chabane who has been put under custody for sexual assault on February 5, 2020 after three former employees of the football club praised charge against him, Angers’ prosecutor said. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

French police on Wednesday detained the chairman of top-flight football side Angers on suspicion of harassment and sexual assault, prosecutors said Wednesday, in the latest scandal to rock sports in the country.

Said Chabane, 55, was detained by police early in the morning for questioning about complaints brought by employees and an ex-employee, Angers chief prosecutor Eric Bouillard told AFP.

He said an investigation was opened in January after an employee of the Ligue 1 side complained of sexual assault. Two other alleged victims then came forward.

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The three victims, aged between 25 and 30, alleged they were caressed in a forceful way in intimate areas by Chabane in 2019.

“It does not appear that this is a pattern of behaviour that has just started,” the prosecutor added.

The club said in a statement that Chabane rejected all the allegations against him and would fully cooperate with investigators.

“He will offer the judicial authorities all the elements needed to re-establish the truth and preserve his honour,” it said.

Angers are currently lying 13th in the Ligue 1.

The case comes as the sport of ice skating in France was rocked by claims from former world championship bronze medallist Sarah Abitbol that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer from 1990 to 1992, starting when she was just 15 years old.

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