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Spanish soccer player to go on trial accused of inappropriately touching a mascot before a game

MADRID (AP) — Spanish soccer player Hugo Mallo will go on trial after being accused of inappropriately touching a mascot before a game in 2019, court officials said Wednesday.

Mallo, who denies wrongdoing, was with Celta Vigo when the alleged incident happened before a Spanish league match against Espanyol.

The 32-year-old Mallo, who faces a fine if found guilty, currently plays for Brazilian club Internacional.

Prosecutors said Mallo inappropriately touched the breasts of the woman who was wearing Espanyol’s parakeet costume while players lined up to salute each other before kickoff.

The case was initially dismissed but that decision was overturned on appeal.

Mallo posted a statement on Instagram calling for “respect,” noting the earlier dismissal of the case, and pointing out that neither Celta nor Espanyol had found evidence of wrongdoing.

The sports daily As, which first reported that Mallo will go on trial, said the player told the court that the television images of the incident show he did nothing wrong. The court said the images were enough to open a trial, though, which is expected to take place in July.

The local COPE radio network said it spoke with Mallo and he said he was sure of an acquittal based on the images. He said he was fully focused on the game, with Celta in a relegation battle.

Mallo, who used to be a Celta captain, said in his statement Wednesday that both sides appealed the dismissal. The Spanish defender said he wanted the ruling to fully exonerate him — not to simply say there was not enough evidence against him.

Mallo said the case was reopened by the court only to resolve discrepancies. He reiterated he will be testifying as an innocent party.

He noted that neither the Spanish league nor the Spanish federation had opened disciplinary proceedings against him.

Internacional told Brazilian media that it is fully confident that the player is innocent and expects the case to be dismissed again.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer