A coach accused of sexual harassment has now left Serbian esports organisation Rising Hope, it’s been confirmed.
Earlier in the week, Rising Hope’s all-female Valorant team and head coach Jehiel quit after a sexual harassment claim was raised regarding another coach, named Simons.
In a Twitlonger statement, Jehiel detailed how Simons would regularly threaten to reveal his genitals despite frequent requests not to.
“It may be an internal joke to them or something but since I am a coach of female players, I found it inappropriate,” Jehiel said. “So I called him out telling him that it wasn’t a good joke and that he should refrain from doing that as it was not funny.”
It is claimed Simons did show his genitals on a Discord video call alongside the team training, at which point Jehiel and the all-female team unanimously voted to leave Rising Hope.
“After the scrim, the team and I held a meeting and reviewed the scrim footage, and found that Simons has been drinking with alcohol visible on Discord cam while acting inappropriately multiple times throughout the scrim, not just the one time that my players caught him,” said Jehiel.
The incident allegedly occurred on 27th September. A few days later, Rising Hope tweeted on 5th October simply to “say goodbye” to the Valorant team without acknowledging the incident. The organisation also noted that coaches Simons and mdvjk remained in the Serbian organisation and would form a new line-up.
Today we say goodbye to our VALORANT line-up. They have done a great job and we thank them for their time.
Simons and mdvjk remain in the organisation and will take part in the formation of the new line-up. pic.twitter.com/uvqvDPpSZO
— Rising Hope (@RHopeAgency) October 5, 2022
However, Rising Hope has now confirmed Simons is no longer a member of the esports organisation.
“We very much regret that such an action was taken by one of our members, we want to make it clear that we did not receive enough information, as some members of the organisation withheld it from the general management,” reads a tweet from Rising Hope.
The post also states that “everyone involved in this incident has been fined”, and apologises to former players and “the entire community”.
We would therefore like to inform you that:
1)Simons is no longer a member of our organisation /
2) Everyone involved in this incident has been fined.
We apologize to our former players and the entire community.
— Rising Hope (@RHopeAgency) October 13, 2022
That said, Jehiel’s statement details how she and the team spoke to Rising Hope co-owner Lazar, who initially wanted to keep Simons as he is “a big star”.
She wrote: “Next step, we approached Lazar, one of the co-owners of Rising Hope and told him what had happened. We opened up the discussion of having Simons out of the team because of what he did. We told Lazar that if he didn’t take out Simons, we would be the ones to leave the org. Initially, Lazar wanted to keep Simons in the org with the reason that he ‘is a big star’, but he agreed with the team’s sentiments about Simons’ behaviour, and told us that he will not be joining the team as coach moving forward.”
As DotEsports reports, rumours have since surfaced regarding other aspects of Simons’ behaviour, including failure to pay players prize winnings and controversial views on the war in Ukraine.
The Rising Hope apology comes days after it announced the launch of its Rising Hope University offering opportunities with a professional esports coach – an opportunity not open to women as “this time we are only recruiting men”.
P.S. This time we are only recruiting men
— Rising Hope (@RHopeAgency) October 3, 2022
Rising Hope is a member of Riot’s VCT Game Changers, a programme aimed at making esports more inclusive for women.
This incident is a clear example of the sexual harassment and misogyny faced by women in esports.
“Personally, I got traumatised with what happened. The shock my players went through is resounding, causing me sleepless nights,” said Jehiel.
“We just hope that these types of predators would be barred from the scene as this is what is destroying the community and giving the game industry a bad image.”