Scharner has spoken about the shocking abuse he suffered at the hands of his own team-mates at Austria Vienna and how it has left him emotionally scarred
FORMER Premier League star Paul Scharner has revealed he was bullied to the brink of sexual abuse by his team-mates.
The Austria international defender spent seven top-flight seasons with Wigan and West Brom, winning the 2013 FA Cup in his second spell with the Latics.
Scharner has now spoken about the horrific abuse he endured while with Austria Vienna as a 21-year-old which has left him emotionally scarred.
Bullying is widespread within Austrian sport, with notorious cases of young footballers and skiers being sexually assaulted with a range of objects.
Scharner, 37, recalled: “I had no chance against ten men. They even smashed my specs in the fight, and I could not protect myself.
“They bound my hands and feet with tape, shoved me face down on to a mattress and sat on me.
“I could hardly breathe, fighting back only made things worse – maybe I should have carried pepper spray on me!
“They smeared lots of black shoe polish over my bare backside, and beat me with flip-flops.
“Hearing my team-mates laughing only humiliated me even further, once they finished they even shaved my hair.
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“I got off lightly as I didn’t get a tube shoved up my anus as well. But they completely cut my hair off in a number of places.”
Scharner added: “The worst thing was showering afterwards. I had to wash off all the shoe polish and then give myself a crew cut.
“This bullying has left a terrible mark on me. Why should I let myself be tortured, and why do people have to subjugate a young guy? We are not animals.
“I would have run amok the next day had my advisor not urged me to keep quiet for the sake of my career.
“I reacted by retreating into my shell, and found it hard to form human relationships with people in football.
“My coach later urged me to go for a drink with the people who had tortured me. It was absolute madness, and of course I refused.”
A 15-year-old in AK Graz’s academy was notoriously raped with a toilet brush by clubmates in 2002.
Newly-retired Scharner added: “The Austrian FA should have reacted then to raise awareness of the problems. They have decreased, but haven’t gone away.
“I would never ill-treat a teammate because of what happened to me. But this physical oppression takes place to show young players where they stand in their club’s hierarchy.
“However it happens at the expense of the player’s on-field performance – and the success of the team.”