Considering his raving popularity in time past, not many expected that Babacar Sarr’s once blossoming football career would plunge into obscurity.
Sarr is a Senegalese footballer who last played for Damac FC, a Saudi Arabian professional club, having started his sporting career with an Icelandic team known as UMF Selfoss. Unlike many would expect, he’s also said to be a fugitive.
Although he insists on his innocence, the 29-year-old football player is said to be wanted in Norway over an alleged rape case, having become the subject of an international arrest warrant amidst which the embattled player went off the grid.
In 2016, Sarr had signed for Molde, an international football club in Norway — months after police authorities had investigated a complaint against him alongside numerous rape allegations he was facing.
While his contracts would be subsequently terminated in Russia and Saudi Arabia, two countries without an extradition treaty with Norway, Ole Solskjaer, the then manager at Molde, had controversially kept him in the team to the chagrin of many.
Sarr’s club manager ‘deemed unfit for defending him’
Solskjaer continued to play Sarr for Molde during a 2017 investigation into allegations of non-consensual sex with a drunk woman. The Senegalese midfielder was accused of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman after an alcohol-fuelled night of partying in Molde.
Upon his appointment as the caretaker manager of Manchester United in 2018, taking over from José Mourinho for the rest of the 2018–19 season, one of Sarr’s accusers had told Daily Telegraph that Solskjaer is “unfit” to coach the premier league club, following his decision to keep playing the midfielder at Molde after his original charge.
“As manager of Molde at the time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fully respected the due process of the Norwegian legal system, which is still ongoing,” a Manchester United spokesman was quoted to have hedged.
Although charges weren’t pressed, Sarr was first accused of rape in 2015 while he was still with another Norwegian team. This had involved a woman he crossed paths with during an end-of-season trip to Stockholm.
Sarr and his then club manager had, however, denied any wrongdoing until he was eventually charged for the first time in March 2018. In August that same year, he was found not guilty of the rape allegations that occurred in 2017.
The court had however asked him to pay £12,500 compensation after it later ruled in favour of the accuser on the civil claim.
Consequently, Sarr’s contract was canceled by mutual consent in January 2019 amid what was described as “a difficult time” for both himself and the club. The footballer later jetted to Russia to rejuvenate his career.
More trouble and arrest warrant after Sarr initiates new club contract
Sarr had, in February 2019, signed for Yenisey Krasnoyarsk, a team in the Russian Premier League, which is acclaimed to be the seventh highest-paid football division in the world. Yet, something awaited him.
Although he later signed a new contract with the Damac FC in Saudi Arabia, he was due in June 2019 to appear in court for the postponed prosecution’s appeal hearing against his acquittal.
At around the same time, Norwegian prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for him through Interpol, an agency that helps police across the world work together on serious crimes.
However, Sarr’s contract with the club came to an abrupt end in January before the end of the season — shortly before he was charged with a second rape for which he had been accused of back in 2018.
According to BBC, the second charge was dropped, in what was described as a “mistake” by the Oslo police, after they failed to notify prosecutors when asked within three months as Norwegian law demanded.
What many consider strange is Sarr’s going off the grid amid the controversies in which he’s embroiled — even as there are no indications that any club signed him ever since his last game with Damac.
Sarr’s whereabouts unknown, lawyer says nothing’s strange
With no club connected to him and his social media accounts being either private or inactive, Sarr’s whereabouts remain unknown to the public amid the rape allegations against him.
There are reports that Ingvild Nordheim, Norway’s state prosecutor, who issued the international arrest warrant in the embattled footballer’s name, claimed Sarr and his lawyers haven’t replied to her either.
BBC also claims there are documents showing Norwegian prosecutors asking Saudi Arabian officials where he is but receiving no concrete answers — although some believe he’s still in Saudi Arabia hatching out his next move.
According to Yvonne Larsen, the footballer’s lawyer, the first rape case has been dealt with already and there’s nothing strange about his silence as he had been found not guilty at his first trial.
“Everyone is innocent until guilt is proved by the law, and Mr. Sarr is still innocent. There is nothing strange about this situation at all,” she was quoted to have said.
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