Leicester footballers held over sex attack claims

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Eight Leicester City footballers were in custody in Spain today over allegations of sexual assault against three women, police said.

The allegations against the players, who were on a warm weather training break at the exclusive La Manga resort, are the latest scandal to rock football.

The alleged victims were said to have been attacked in the hotel Los Belones in Cartagena.

In a statement police said: "Agents of the judicial police, of the Cartagena division of the national police, arrested nine people, all members of English football club Leicester City, in relation to a sexual assault alleged by three women."

Spanish authorities said four of the players were arrested for sexual assault and breaking and entering, one for assault and breaking and entering, and three for breaking and entering and leaving a crime scene without offering assistance.

The ninth was arrested for leaving a crime scene without offering assistance.

Police said the women had claimed the players went by force into their room and that they were sexually assaulted by some of them.

The women had been intending to return to Germany but were persuaded by police to remain in the country to be interviewed.

The alleged victims were found to have suffered injuries to various parts of their body when examined by doctors at Alicante general hospital and police doctors, police said.

The three women gave the police a bracelet, which was apparently broken by one of the aggressors, as well as torn underpants with blood, they added.

They separately identified by photograph the footballers alleged to have carried out the assaults, establishing the level of involvement of each one of them.

They have not been named.

A police spokesman said they appeared before a judge this morning before being taken into judicial custody.

According to an account given by a member of the hotel staff, where the assaults were alleged to have taken place, the footballers had arrived that night apparently drunk and fighting between themselves and other customers.

The players were first arrested yesterday after the allegations were made on Monday - when the incident was alleged to have taken place.

The rest of the squad cut short the week-long trip and flew back to England last night though club officials stressed they had not been thrown out of their hotel.

Leicester City issued a statement which said: "The club is aware that a number of players have been interviewed by Spanish police as a result of alleged incidents which took place during a club training camp in Spain.

"The club is co-operating fully with the authorities in their investigations but, as these investigations are still ongoing, is not in a position to make any further comment at this stage."

It is another embarrassing episode for the East Midlands club after an incident in La Manga four years ago when striker Stan Collymore let off a fire extinguisher in a bar and the squad were asked to leave their hotel.

La Manga managing director Tony Coles said today: "I can confirm there was an incident. It is between two parties, the hotel is not involved. The matter is sub judice."

The club's chief executive Tim Davies is understood to have flown out to Spain to join manager Micky Adams, who has remained with the players.

Leicester, who are battling possible relegation from the Barclaycard Premiership, flew out to Spain on Sunday on the back of a run of 15 League and Cup games without a win stretching back three months.

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