Manchester United resist calls to suspend Antony

The allegations about Antony relate to alleged attacks last year and earlier in 2023 – Reuters/ANDREW COULDRIDGE

Manchester United have resisted calls to suspend Antony amid allegations that the Brazil winger attacked a former girlfriend.

United announced on Wednesday that they were treating the matter “seriously” but did not say Antony would be dropped despite pressure from domestic abuse charities for the club not to select the 23-year-old winger while police investigate claims by Gabriela Cavallin.

Brazil announced on Monday night that Antony had been dropped from their squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia on Saturday and Peru four days later.

Antony has not been arrested.

In the club’s first official response since fresh allegations emerged on Monday, United stopped short of publicly confirming that Antony would not be available for selection.

The club said: “Manchester United acknowledges the allegations made against Antony and notes that the Police are conducting enquiries. Pending further information, the club will be making no further comments.

“As a club, we are taking this matter seriously, with consideration of the impact of these allegations and subsequent reporting will have on survivors of abuse.”

Officials from the Professional Footballers Association, the players’ union, are understood to have been at United on Wednesday to discuss the situation around Antony.

Antony, who has started all four of United’s Premier League matches this season, released a statement on Instagram on Monday in which he said his relationship with Cavallin had been “tumultuous, with verbal offences from both sides”.

But the Brazilian – an £85 million signing from Ajax 12 months ago – vehemently denied “any physical aggression” and said he trusted “the ongoing police investigations will reveal the truth about my innocence”.

‘A sign that allegations are not being taken seriously’

United faced severe criticism for their handling of the Mason Greenwood case and have come under intense pressure from domestic abuse charities this week to drop Antony while the player is under police investigation.

Women’s Aid had warned United that clubs who allow footballers to continue playing after allegations of domestic abuse against them risked sending a message that the claims are not being taken seriously.

“Domestic abuse is prevalent in our society and all employers, including football clubs, need clear policies and procedures about what to do when allegations are made against an employee,” the organisation said.

“When the alleged perpetrator is a high-profile footballer, we know from survivors of domestic abuse that has an impact on both football fans and wider society, who see them playing and celebrated on the pitch as a sign that the allegations are not being taken seriously by the club.

“Safeguarding is vital in these cases, to ensure the safety of everyone involved while proceedings are ongoing.”

Alleged attack ‘damaged breast implant’

End Violence Against Women Coalition, a UK organisation made up of 143 specialist women’s support services, had told United that the “world is watching” to see how they respond to the allegations levelled at Antony, who was named in the Champions League squad the club submitted to Uefa on Tuesday.

Police are investigating claims by Cavallin, a DJ and influencer, that she was subjected to a series of attacks by Antony between June last year and May this year, including when she was pregnant.

Greater Manchester Police are looking into Cavallin’s claims that she was headbutted and punched by Antony in a Manchester hotel room the day after United’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City on Jan 14 that resulted in a cut to her head and a breast implant being damaged.

They are also looking into accusations she was left with a cut finger after trying to protect herself during an alleged attack by Antony at a house on May 8, the day after the winger had played for United in a 1-0 defeat by West Ham in east London.

Sao Paulo Civil Police are investigating a number of separate allegations, including claims by Cavallin that she was attacked by Antony in a moving car while pregnant on holiday in Brazil in June last year.

Antony problem comes after Greenwood scandal

The scrutiny around Antony comes only weeks after United backtracked on plans to bring Greenwood back into their squad in the wake of a fierce public and international backlash.

Greenwood, 21, was arrested in January last year after images and audio clips appeared on social media and was subsequently suspended by United. Greenwood has denied all charges.

After charges of attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and controlling and coercive behaviour against Greenwood were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in February after key witnesses withdrew and new material came to light, United launched an internal investigation.

Following their inquiries, United said they were satisfied that Greenwood “did not commit the offences in respect of which he was originally charged”, despite admitting they had “limited powers of investigation”. United had also been unable to interview the alleged victim.

United had been preparing to reintegrate Greenwood into their squad only for the news to leak and spark an outcry.

It led United to announce on Aug 21 that Greenwood would leave the club and on Friday the striker joined Spanish club Getafe on a season long loan.

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