The complainant claimed that she received “flirtatious” text messages from the FIFA official.
FIFA stressed its commitment to addressing the “allegations of wrongdoing” at its offices in a statement to Doha News on Monday, in response to recent reports over sexual harassment at the workplace.
Over the weekend, a former employee at the football agency told the New York Times (NYT) that she had been sexually harassed by Miguel Macedo, the Portuguese FIFA Legends programme director, during her employment period.
She claimed that Macedo often made inappropriate comments on the way she dressed and even sent her “flirtatious text messages”.
The football organisation told Doha News that, “[FIFA] has robust reporting mechanisms in place. These measures include the opportunity to speak to an external ombudsperson, which also happened in the case to which you [Doha News] have referred to.”
FIFA added that an internal investigation had been “conducted in line with best industry practice”.
Concerns over Macedo’s misconduct was also raised by Qatari officials last year, who had reportedly asked FIFA to not send him to the Gulf country again, as the NYT reported.
The NYT said that FIFA told the Qatari officials that Macedo had been warned about his behaviour.
In February 2021, the Times also learned that a young woman working at the Club World Cup in Qatar informed her bosses that Macedo stroked her hair before proceeding to comment on her appearance in an event with colleagues.
Despite the seriousness of the allegations raised against him, Macedo remains at FIFA and the accuser left for a job in Qatar with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), without knowing if any action had been taken against her harasser.
The complaint process
Throughout her experience, the accuser told the Times that she had to often find ways to avoid being alone with Macedo in the office.
At one point during the beginnig of her employment period, she claimed that Macedo groped her at the end of a performance review meeting.
“For me…that was one of the worst days,” she said.
In another incident in 2019, whilst on a work trip to France for the Women’s World Cup, the FIFA official texted her to come to his hotel suite late at night. She declined the invitation.
It was not until later that year when she built up the courage to speak to the Chief Women’s Football Officer at FIFA, Sarai Bareman, and asked if she would help her file a complaint to Kimberly Morris, a Canadian lawyer serving as the football agency’s human resources director.
Instead of addressing her case, Morris suggested that she moves to another job.
“It felt like I was being brushed aside,” the complainant said.
Preparations for an investigation process only began weeks later after she made another complaint to Joyce Cook, then FIFA’s chief member associations officer. At the time, a male colleague said that he had witnessed Macedo’s inappropriate behaviour.
Later on 25 February, 2020, the accuser was told in a phone call that the management upheld her complaint, but only regarding a single comment Macedo had made in a meeting two years prior, whilst withholding on remaining instances.