Bo Karlsson resigns after #metoo accusation: "He said he wanted me"

Karin Thorbjörn was one of Sweden's most promising referees. Nevertheless, she chose to end her career very early. Now she told Football Channel about the harassment of Bo Karlsson that led her to resign: "He was 30 years older than me, but he said that he was in love with me and he wanted me".
Along with Anders Frisk and Jonas Eriksson, Bo Karlsson was one of Sweden's most prestigious football referees over the years. He was appointed to the 1994 World Cup in the USA and the 1991 final of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup between Manchester United and FC Barcelona. After his refereeing career, Karlsson has continued to work in the football field and has served as the chairman of the Swedish Football Association's Referees Committee and also as a member of the UEFA Referees Committee. Now 68, he resigned as the boss of the Referees Committee in Sweden. The reason is that he has been accused of having sexually assaulted a young referee. “The information revealed make it impossible for me to continue as the chairman of the Swedish Referees Committee. I have therefore informed the Swedish Football Association chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson that I will leave my position with immediate effect. My position is based on trust, but these accusations - even after 21 years - are so bad that the best solution for the Swedish football is that I resign. I have no memory of the event and cannot comment on it", said Bo Karlsson to the Football Channel. "Information on inappropriate behavior has prompted Bo Karlsson to resign as chairman of the Referees Committee. It's sad, but the right decision", said Karl-Erik Nilsson, chairman of the Swedish Football Association. "I share Bo Karlsson's view. There is serious information that have emerged and it affects trust in a way that will prevent him from continuing his work".
Karin Thorbjörn, today 41-year-old, is a former football player and referee. She played in Öxabäck/Mark in Allsvenskan and in different youth teams before she suffered a serious injury. Then she started as a referee and her career was promising. But it came to an end after a national event in 1996. Thorbjörn posted on Facebook some examples of "shameful suggestions, far too many hugs and patches on my back. I participated in a football-related cruise on an Åland ferry. I think we were only two girls on that cruise and there were a hundred men”, she says. “Bosse Karlsson was with us too. There was a lot of alcohol going on. That night it was really fun. He said that he was in love with me and he wanted me and that kind of comments. It was shocking. Suddenly, I did not know what he meant, whether he actually thought I was a good referee or just smacking. As a 20-year-old, I thought it was very difficult. I did not know how to reject a person in that position without insulting him in any way. I was very afraid that I would be bad. I thought if I had said something I was afraid it would be turned against me. I felt small, while he was the referee responsible for SvFF. There were people around who heard what it was whispered to me. Every now and then I tried to just laugh at it; it was the way I tried to handle it, but I thought it was really fun. That was the only occasion... but for me it had major consequences. I made sure I was never alone with him. In the summer I would go to the referee education sessions. I was talking to my mother the other day and asked if she remembered and she said she remembered that I was terrified that he would be on that education session. I did not know how to handle the situation. I wanted to avoid all possible situations where I could be put back in this situation again. And that's not correct. It was somewhere there that I understood... my dream and my goal were to referee a World Cup", says Thorbjörn, who, despite her talent as referee, suddenly became unsure how she could know whether she is indeed a good referee and not because Bosse Karlsson was interested in her. In the end, she used an illness as an excuse to completely leave the refereeing. “I had meningitis and then I chose to use it as the reason I ended. In one way, I think this is far from unique if you look at all the stories that have been published in recent weeks, but I'm sad about what I was exposed to and it's so common among men with power to try... that's 30 years of age difference and in a deprivation it's so incredibly judgmental. I do not think the football movement 20 years ago had been prepared to handle such things. I do not even think I thought about saying to someone or reacting to it. My purpose now is to share what happened, to continue to highlight the issue and to give others the opportunity to dare. It's about trying to get some change around structures.”

Source: Fotbollskanalen