New York City FC says it is making changes to its work climate after an internal investigation revealed that a group of players, including former Spanish star striker David Villa, acted inappropriately towards a female employee.
The MLS club launched the probe after allegations of sexual harassment made against ex-Barcelona standout Villa and other staff members by a former club intern.
NYC released a statement Friday saying only one of the accused remains with the team and has been disciplined but did not go into any details. Villa is no longer associated with the team and was not named in the team’s statement.
“The allegations made during the course of the investigation were that a small number of players and staff did not act in accordance with the club’s standards in their interactions with the intern and with other club staff,” the statement said.
“This behavior included unnecessary physical contact, teasing, and comments regarding clothing and appearance. The club found that this behavior was inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Villa, who is retired, denied the charge when the story first appeared in July and again through a spokesman on Friday.
“David has taken this issue very seriously and fully cooperated with the investigation. But as he has said from the beginning, these accusations are completely false,” said the spokesman.
In comments on Twitter in July, the woman identified only as “Skyler B” said she was repeatedly harassed by Villa.
“I rarely went a day without him grabbing me or verbally harassing me,” she wrote, saying supervisors at the club thought it was “great comedic material.”
“Women brave enough to tell their stories this loudly are my heroes,” she added.
Villa left New York City in 2018 to play one season in Japan and retired in 2019.
The 38-year-old Villa played for NYC from 2015-18 after starring in Spain for Barcelona and other clubs.
He played on Spain’s 2010 World Cup champion team and scored a Spanish-record 59 goals in 98 international appearances from 2005-17.
Villa is the first Spanish player to reach 50 international goals and is Spain’s all-time top goal scorer in the World Cup with nine goals.