Rayo Vallecano has defended its decision to hire disgraced coach Carlos Santiso to take charge of its women’s team, despite being aware of a leaked recording in which he encourages his staff to find a girl to gang-rape to help team bonding.
Santiso was hired by Rayo on Friday even though he had been forced to resign from his job with the Madrid representative under-12s team in November following the leaking of a voice note sent to his coaching staff. Rayo are based in Madrid and the women’s team plays in the Primera División.
In the recording, which the Guardian has heard, Santiso tells his staff: “This staff is incredible, but there are things we still lack, that we still need. We still need, I still say it, to do something like what those from Arandina did, man,” he added, in reference to three footballers from the Spanish third division team Arandina CF who were each sentenced to 38 years in prison for the gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl in 2017.
He continued: “We need to grab a girl, but overage so we don’t get ourselves into trouble, and to [cargarnosla – which doesn’t translate directly but broadly means to ‘screw her’] there all together. That’s what really brings a staff, a team together. Look at the Arandina lot: they went straight up.” Despite a backlash from fan groups, the club has said it does not intend to take action against Santiso or reverse the hire.
Santiso confirmed that the message was real, according to the Spanish radio station Cadena SER, but claimed it was “an informal chat among friends”. Cadena SER also spoke to the Rayo Vallecano president, Raúl Martín Presa, who told them that he would not be drawn into the issue and would not be pushed into sacking his new coach. “We sign professionals, not people here,” he is quoted as saying.
The Federation of Rayo Vallecano supporters’ clubs has demanded the club gets rid of Santiso and accused the president of “crossing another red line.” A statement read: “For Carlos Santiso, sexually abusing a girl is what really unites a team. We cannot allow a person with such grave thoughts in their head to sit on the bench and represent Rayo Vallecano.”
Fans’ group Plataforma ADRV referred to Santiso as a “degenerate misogynist” who “does not represent the values of [Rayo] and we hope he will be sacked and no longer sully the name of our club.” A banner was put up at the club’s training ground declaring: “Respect for women: Santiso out of Vallecas.”
The club’s backing of its women’s team has been in the spotlight recently with fans displaying a similar banner during a game in November calling for “Respect and dignity for the women’s team” after a player had to be treated by doctors from opponents Athletic Club because they do not travel with medical staff of their own. They also have no access to gym facilities and at the start of the season players refused to train because their contracts had not yet been signed. Given the precariousness of their situation, the players have not yet spoken out on the decision to employ Santiso.
Presa has a longstanding dispute with fans at the club, who repeatedly chant for him to leave every game. From the neighbourhood of Vallecas, Rayo has a consciously left-wing identity and supporters back a series of social causes.