MANILA, Philippines –Philippine Azkals Fil-Spanish player Angel Guirado apologized to match commissioner Cristy Ramos and said he did not intend to disrespect her when she conducted a pre-match check on the team prior to a friendly.
Ramos accused Guirado and his teammate Lexton Moy of sexual harassment just before the Azkals started their campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.
"I'm truly sorry for the misunderstanding and I apologize to Ms. Ramos for not being sensitive to her presence (in the dressing room)," Guirado said in an interview with The Philippine Star's Joaquin Henson.
Ramos claimed that Guirado and Moy made innuendos directed at her while she was conducting a check on the team prior to their friendly against Malaysia last February 29.
Ramos alleged that Moy made a comment referring to her bra size, while Guirado only wore briefs during the check.
"I wish to make clear that I intended no disrespect nor malice when Ms. Ramos called on me to check on my jersey number before our match against Malaysia. I wore my playing shorts but still had not put on my shirt," Guirado said.
The Fil-Spanish player said that the sexual harassment accusation "has caused much anguish and shock to my family as Spanish media has picked up the news."
Guirado told Henson that the Spanish daily sports newspaper 'Marca' has reported on the story, with the headline "Complaint for sexual harassment in the Philippines for Spanish Angel Guirado."
"In Spain, it is a serious charge when you are accused of sexual harassment," Guirado said. "My parents are very disturbed and even went to the Spanish Football Association to explain the situation."
"Throughout my life and career, I have kept our family name's honor. I proudly represent both the Philippines and Spain as an athlete. I will never do anything to compromise this responsibility," he added.
Guirado's older brother, Juani, said the situation could have been avoided if Ramos waited for his brother and Moy to return from Nepal and clear the misunderstanding before filing the complaint.
"As it happened, the complaint was filed after we left for Nepal and neither Angel nor Lex had a chance to explain their side," Juani said.
"The complaint was filed to the AFC and broadcast in media while we were in Nepal fighting for the Philippines," he added.
Juani said the issue affected the team's morale, especially since "there was no malice, no sexual harassment, no intent to disrespect."
Despite the distraction caused by the sexual harassment issue, the Azkals still managed to complete a historic and inspiring run in the AFC Challenge Cup.
The eventually finished in third place – their best ever finish – by defeating Palestine. Along the way, they upset former champions India and Tajikistan, hang tough with defending champions North Korea and nearly defeated Turkmenistan.
The Guirado brothers were vital in the Azkals' campaign and they both scored in the squad's 4-3 win over Palestine in the third-place match.