Marko Simic, star striker for the Indonesian capital’s soccer club, Persija Jakarta, has been accused of indecently touching a woman without her consent on a flight from Bali to Sydney. The Croatian was traveling with his team to Australia as the Indonesian league champions are taking on Australian club Newcastle Jets FC today.
The incident reportedly occurred on Sunday, with The Sydney Morning Herald reporting that “a female passenger on the flight made a complaint to cabin crew that she had allegedly experienced unwanted touching by Mr Simic. A report was filed by the flight crew to alert authorities on the ground and Australian Federal Police officers were waiting at Sydney Airport for the plane’s arrival.”
The 31-year-old soccer player was questioned by Australian Federal Police as soon as he landed. Simic was charged with an act of indecency without consent and common assault and attended a court hearing for the case today. He was ordered to surrender his passport and will have to remain in Australia until his next court appearance, scheduled for April 9. If proven guilty, he could potentially face a jail term.
As reported by 9News Australia, when Simic was asked if he’s “enjoying his first visit to Australia”, he replied, “sure”.
Simic joined Persija’s training session yesterday and was named in the squad for the match against the Jets, as confirmed by Persija Jakarta manager Ardhi Tjahjoko in an official statement.
“We are still waiting for the development and results of the investigation from authorities. Yes, there was an ‘allegation’ of sexual assault by Simic, but we (the team) and all passengers in that flight didn’t see the incident. Once again, it’s still an allegation,” Ardhi said, as quoted by Kompas.
Simic has been accused of sexual harassment before, allegedly sending creepy Instagram DMs directed to dangdut star Via Vallen last year. Via posted some of the DMs on her Instagram, one of which read, “I want u sign for me in my bedroom, wearing sexy clothes…”
Simic was never charged with sexual harassment over the allegations.
Simic is a hugely popular player among Persija Jakarta supporters after he scored 18 goals last season to help the team win its first Indonesian league title since 2001.