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Women's soccer coach accused of sexual harassment in Brazil resigns after protests

SAO PAULO (AP) — The male coach of a Brazilian women's soccer team resigned on Monday after accusations against him of sexual harassment drew league-wide protests.

Kleiton Lima left Santos club in September when the accusations were brought to light by media. He was restored as the women's coach on April 2 when Santos officials said they found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But, since Friday, players across the league protested his return, and Santos said in a statement on Monday that Lima made “a personal decision” to leave to “protect his family, his integrity and the club.”

“The coach has been under fire and has received death threats in recent days due to the accusations made last year. Even though he is sure he did not commit any of the actions he is accused of, Kleiton Lima understood his request to step aside is the best option for the preservation of all the parties involved.”

Brazilian media reported in September that Lima was the subject of 19 anonymous accusations of sexual and moral harassment.

Over the weekend, players in Brazil's top women's soccer league protested his return to Santos. Before their matches, they held their hands over their mouths as if they had been silenced.

Palmeiras and Avai players wore the number 19 in protest on Friday.

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