NYCFC investigating sexual harassment claim against David Villa

NYCFC issued a statement on Wednesday saying they will investigate claims of sexual harassment made via social media by a former intern against David Villa when the former World Cup winner played for the MLS side.

A team source confirmed that the woman making the accusations did work at the club. The unnamed woman, made her accusations via Twitter last week, saying: "The harassment I went through at NYCFC was so bad that now the idea of professional sports terrifies me. Staying in the field of athletics terrifies me. I'm changing my entire career because the s--t they did to me ruined my dreams." She also claimed via Twitter that David Villa "touched her every day."

In a statement, NYCFC said they are investigating the claims.

"New York City Football Club has learned of the allegations made by a former intern by seeing them on social media. We take this matter extremely seriously and do not tolerate harassment of any kind in any areas of our organization. We immediately launched an investigation into the matter," read the statement issued on Wednesday.

Villa, a former Barcelona icon and World Cup winner, on Wednesday said in a statement released to ESPN through his agent: "I strongly object to the accusations made about me on Twitter. These accusations are entirely false and I deny them."

An attempt to reach the alleged victim for further comment via direct message was not successful.

Villa, a World Cup winner with Spain and UEFA Champions League winner with Barcelona, joined NYCFC ahead of its debut season in 2015. He went on to spend four years with the team, winning the league MVP award in 2016. He departed NYCFC after the 2018 campaign to play a single season with Japanese side Vissel Kobe, retiring after the 2019 season. He has since returned to New York, where he is starting up a team in the USL Championship, Queensboro City FC, which is scheduled to begin play in 2021.

In Villa's statement, he said had heard nothing previously about the "vague accusations" from either the alleged victim or the club, but that he would fully cooperate with the club's investigation.

"I repeat, these accusations are totally false," Villa said. "Harassment is a severe problem for many people. It dishonors those who suffer harassment for others to claim it as an excuse to make false accusations. As our legal team works to address these false charges, I ask the media and the public to please respect my right to the presumption of innocence in this matter."