Suspended national team head coach Devis Mangia is facing more allegations of sexual misconduct, this time in Romania where he had coached before being engaged in Malta.
The mother of footballer Răzvan Popa told GSP LIVE that her son was sexually harassed by Mangia when he was coaching in League 1 at Craiova University.
The revelations were published by Gazeta Sporturilor on Monday, with the mother claiming Mangia told her son to watch a porn movie together and then started to masturbate in front of him.
Popa's mother, Alexandra, told the Romanian media house that her son went through a deep depression after being sexually harassed by the Italian coach. The incident forced him to terminate his footballing career prematurely.
Popa's last club was Dinamo, from which he left in January 2022. After playing for FCSB juniors, Inter, Zaragoza, Burgos, Gaz Metan and Poli Iasi, Popa, now 25, arrived at CSU Craiova in October 2017. He left in the summer of 2019, after 24 games.
Mangia coached at CSU Craiova between May 2017 and April 2019, winning the Romanian Cup in the 2018/2019 season.
Mangia did not respond to requests for comment on this latest revelation. Last week he denied accusations of misconduct after the board of the Malta Football Association asked its Safeguarding Board to investigate the claims.
Mangia was suspended by the MFA on Tuesday when a player reported him over alleged sexual misconduct. A second national team player later came forward alleging similar behaviour.
Later on Monday, the MFA said that it had referred the reports it received to the police for further investigation.
The Răzvan Popa claims
Alexandra Popa claimed it all began when Mangia invited her son to several private meetings, under the pretext of a discussion about football in 2017 and 2018.
“He first asked him about his sexual activity, and then started making direct advances on him. This while he was masturbating in front of my child,” Popa claimed.
According to her, when Răzvan refused Mangia's sexual advances, the coach began to "marginalise" the footballer and did not allow him to play. She also claimed the Italian physically assaulted him in the dressing room.
“He put his hand around his neck and pinned him to the wall,” she claimed.
The player's parents only found out about those episodes in March 2019, when their son spilled the beans.
Popa's mother said the Universitatea Craiova club fired the coach a day after the parents approached the management.
She accused the club of having helped Mangia escape from any form of discipline.
"They later fired Mangia. But I had the feeling that they allowed him to escape", Popa's mother said.
She explained how her son slipped into depression after the incident and gained a lot of weight. He stopped visiting them and she knew something was wrong until he eventually told her all about the ordeal.
Team says it investigated the claims and found no basis
In a statement, the management of the Craiova University team said it had investigated the claims made by the player’s parents which were not corroborated by any other evidence.
The team said it had received a report from the family of a player and had launched an investigation into the claims.
“Following the investigations, the reported claims were not confirmed, as there were several elements that showed a rather different situation. The only evidence was the family's statements, which were not corroborated by any other testimony or physical evidence,” it said.
It noted that the player's relatives had given a “much less detailed version of what happened”, with many details revealed to the media on Monday missing from the original complaint. Some other information was actually contradicting what was stated at the time, the team said.
It said that despite the result of this investigation and in order to protect the club, the player and the other persons involved, the club preferred to “amicably conclude the contract” with coach Mangia.
“We appreciate that, also out of the desire to protect their child, as we did, the family members kept silent about these alleged reprehensible acts for three years,” the team said in its statement.
“Our club assures the public that we do not tolerate such conduct, which deviates from the rules accepted by society and of one of our employees,” it added.
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