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Football fan faces lifetime ban for allegedly groping female player

A football fan is facing a lifetime ban from Mexican club Tigres after he appeared to grope the chest of US female footballer Sofia Huerta.

The incident occurred after Saturday’s friendly match in Mexico between Tigres and Huerta’s club Houston Dash, which plays in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the top tier of US football.

Huerta, who has played seven times for the USWNT, was taking a selfie with fans in the stand when the man standing behind her for the photo appeared to grabbed her chest.

Tigres put out a statement on Monday, along with a WhatsApp number, calling for help from its fan base to identify the man.

“Once the so-called fan has been identified, he will be prohibited for life from entering any of our facilities and any women’s or men’s matches,” the club said in a statement.

“At Tigres, we are fully committed to eradicating in our stadium and in our community any form of harassment or situation that violates human dignity or seeks to intimidate, degrade or offend women.

“As a result of the events that took place on Saturday, in which a so-called fan presumably violated the dignity of the Houston Dash player at the end of the game, we have decided to take action regarding this action. We will be filing a lawsuit against whoever was responsible for this event.”

In a follow-up statement sent to CNN, Tigres said: “He has already been identified thanks to our fans and his information has been handed over to the respective authorities so they can do the investigation and corroborate the information.”

The Mexican club said it would like to “apologize profusely” to Huerta and her family for the “regrettable experience.”

“For Tigres, above all, protecting and defending the dignity of all individuals will always be of utmost importance,” the club said.

Tigres passed on the information to the General Prosecutor of Justice of the State of Nuevo Leon, with the Prosecutor’s Office specializing in Femicides and Crimes Committed Against Women looking into the case.

“The Prosecutor opened an investigation in follow-up to facts spread on social networks regarding the probable criminal conduct against a Houston Dash team player,” the office said in a statement to CNN.

“According to information also disseminated through media statements, the events occurred at the end of a match held on October 5, 2019 at the Estadio Universitario en San Nicolás de los Garza, after which an unidentified male fan presumably touched the young athlete.”

Neither the club or the prosecutor are at this stage identifying the fan.

In a statement, Houston Dash said it supports Tigres’ position of “zero tolerance” towards the incident.

“We believe that behavior has no place in our game or in our society,” the club said. “Above all, our main priority is the security of the players and we thank Tigres’ efforts to solve this matter.”

CNN asked Houston Dash if it was possible to reach Huerta for comment but the club wasn’t immediately able to respond.

Tigres is one of Mexico’s best supported clubs. The men’s side has won seven national championships and the women have won two titles since being formed for the inaugural women’s season in 2017.

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