Norwegian football has been engulfed by a spectacular sex scandal that has dominated the front pages of the nation’s newspapers for two months and horrified fans of one of the country’s biggest clubs.
Twelve players from SK Brann, the team from the Scandinavian country’s second city, Bergen, have been caught out after a team bonding session turned into a booze-fuelled party at the club’s own stadium, leading to allegations of rape and assault in which a footballer was accused of biting a young woman.
England’s Premier League has witnessed its fair share of bad behaviour among privileged players, including during the Covid lockdown when some footballers chose to break the rules and party on.
However, the usually sleepy Eliteserien, Norway’s top flight, has taken pandemic rule-breaking to another level, with almost half of the Brann squad bursting their Covid bubble in an after-party with seven women that lasted until dawn.
SK Brann initially tried to deal with the matter internally, but protests made that impossible and the Scandinavian outfit have become the latest tone-deaf football club to feel the full force of fan power.
In scenes reminiscent of fan reactions to European Super League, supporters demanded action. The resulting inquiries following the incident, which took place in mid August, have only just concluded more than two months on.
A Sportsmail investigation has revealed the ill-fated evening began at an upmarket Italian restaurant in Bergen city centre following a training game, organised to help rectify on-field problems that had left SK Brann, three-time league champions, rooted to the foot of the table.
As in the English top flight, Norwegian players have committed to strict Covid protocols to enable elite football to continue throughout the pandemic.
Even so, the unauthorised social, which included a steady supply of beer and wine, spilt over into a trendy Bergen bar, before escalating dramatically when a group of players and young women headed for the stadium in a fleet of taxis.
SK Brann’s stadium, situated against the backdrop of Mount Ulriken in Bergen, played host to the biggest scandal in the history of Norwegian football back in mid-August
The canny players apparently thought they had outfoxed club management by switching off their mobiles phones before letting themselves into the ground, which they believed would render their revelry undetectable.
However, the footballers overlooked the extensive CCTV surveillance system in use at the stadium, which is in the shadow of the impressive Mount Ulriken in Western Norway, and their escapade was recorded and making lurid, splash headlines across the country within 24 hours.
Bergeners follow SK Brann with a passion, which verges on religious.
The club helps shape the city’s unique identity within Norway and its distinctiveness from the capital, Oslo.
Fans were furious by the behaviour of 12 players, who hosted a late-night party at the stadium
Brann are one of the biggest clubs in Norway but their form had them bottom of the table
The furious reaction of fans of SK Brann to the scandal that has engulfed their club stems from the passionate support for the side in Bergen.
‘We like to see ourselves as a city who has a face turned outwards to the rest of the world and our backs turned to the rest of Norway,’ mayor of Bergen, Rune Bakervik, tells Sportsmail .
‘Brann is our national team in a way. It is how we define ourselves.’
Despite the supporters’ devotion, the club has only enjoyed limited success. They were runners up in the Eliteserien in 2016, and before that their best finish in recent years was a league title win in 2007.
However, there have been some great nights at the Brann Stadium down the years..
The visit of a John Barnes-led Liverpool in the Club World Cup in 1997 – in which Brann salvaged a 1-1 draw – remains a tale told with fondness to this day. More recently there was the visit from Everton in 2008 – but the less said about that 8-1 aggregate hammering the better.
The mayor of Bergen, Rune Bakervik, told Sportsmail the club is how ‘we define ourselves’.
As a result, the response to the scandal in a tight-knit city of just over 250,000 people, has been ferocious, with a banner reading, ‘Scum’, awaiting the players for their first home game after news of the debacle broke.
The fall-out from from the incident has seen one of the most popular players sacked, others have terminated their contracts, with one fearing violence from irate supporters.
‘We were at the very bottom of the table and we were desperate already and then this story of the party came out,’ Erlend Vagane, head of the Brann supporters’ club, the Battalion told Sportsmail. ‘How deep can we fall? That’s how it felt. It felt like a slap in the face.’
Two police investigations have followed and fans have come together for an extraordinary silent protest at the club’s 18,000-capacity stadium, in which they even ignored their own team scoring a crucial goal in a relegation six-pointer.
Unluckily for the club, the whole sorry saga could have been avoided if hard-working manager Eirik Horneland had added another 15 minutes to his long day.
The diligent coach, who was working late to solve the tactical challenges of Brann’s disappointing season while his players got the beers in, left at 12.30am, just a quarter of an hour before many of the squad and their acquaintances arrived.
The club initially tried to contain the fall-out of the scandal, insisting it would be dealt with internally. But public outrage and police involvement ensured that would not be possible.
Norwegians have been quick to adopt a popular idiom to explain what happened next: ‘Når katten er borte, danser musene på bordet,’ which literally translates as ‘when the cat is away, the mice dance on the table’.
And now, depleted, Brann are fighting for their survival in the Norwegian top tier with just five games left in a season that ends this month.
This is the story of one of the darkest nights in Norwegian football history.
THE NIGHT OUT
Having comfortably beaten fourth division team Fana IL 3-0 in the Norwegian Cup on August 1, Brann, then finding themselves bottom of the top division with just seven points from 14 matches, arranged a training game to iron out problems.
It was a chance for players to keep sharp during a 14-day break until their next league match.
On Monday, August 9, a select Brann XI won 3-1 behind-closed-doors against FK Fyllingsdalen, a fourth division side, and it was decided among the squad that they would leave the stadium and head into Bergen for a team-bonding dinner.
Strict Covid-19 protocol was in place for players and contracts were signed by each of them to allow the Norwegian league to commence despite the pandemic.
There was to be no social interaction with individuals outside Brann’s designated bubble and there would need to be the social distancing at any meal or gathering, although it is understood the meal that kickstarted the evening was not run by club management.
A table for more than 20 was booked at Boccone, a newly opened Italian restaurant in Bergen and a spot that some of the players have frequented before, for around 8pm.
Manager Eirik Horneland was seen on the phone during crisis meetings around the scandal
‘It was a simple dinner they had with us and they had a couple of drinks,’ Boccone owner Jaspreet Singh Kahlon told Sportsmail.
It is understood players had around four to five units of alcohol, both wine and beer being served to the table, during their visit to the restaurant, which, in the eyes of some supporters, was a transgression in itself with the team in a desperate moment and bottom of the table.
While some players elected to call time on their evening before midnight, others were just getting started as they walked across Torgallmenningen, the main square in the centre of Bergen, to a bar called ‘No Stress’, situated on Hollendergaten, one of the city’s busiest streets.
No Stress, crowned bar of the year in Norway back in 2015, is a hotspot for the young people of Bergen and the notoriety of the 12 players saw them attract plenty of attention, even when sat in their own section.
Introductions were made to seven young women, at this moment a clear breach of both Brann’s internal Covid-19 regulations and those signed by players with the league and the Norwegian FA had been made.
The decision was made to hold a nachspiel, common parlance in Norway to refer to an ‘afterparty’, and it was determined that Brann’s stadium, situated three miles south of No Stress, would be the venue.
What followed later was a series of unfortunate events that built up to the biggest scandal in Norwegian football history.
Brann’s manager Eirik Horneland had chosen to stay late at the stadium to work on turning the fortunes of the side around. He eventually called time on his day at 12.30am, only to later learn players arrived in taxis within 15 minutes of his departure.
It is reported in Norwegian media that Horneland did not reset the stadium alarm and so the dozen arriving players were able to use keycard entry without having to turn off the system. Phones had been switched off in the belief it would help them get away with the party if there was no record of it happening.
Downstairs at the stadium is a common room where the party was held with some staying as late as 5am. What nobody ever seemed to realise was that surveillance cameras at the stadium caught them out – leading to the expose.
On the Tuesday morning, an emergency meeting was held among club officials as they learned about the party, but less than 24 hours after it occurred it was splashed as the top story for newspaper Bergens Tidende.
A drinking scandal amid the pandemic was one thing but what followed was a national scandal unlike anything they had ever seen.
The moment prominent local newspaper Bergens Tidende splashed the story across their front page in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Brann found themselves overwhelmed.
Mads Bøyen, a reporter at BT, was closely involved in the story and the wave of interest came crashing down hard on the club.
‘It was a major news story, not just locally but nationally,’ he told Sportsmail.
‘It was all over the front pages, the biggest news websites and Norwegian broadcasting had it running for more than one or two days.’
‘The whole city (was talking about it) and it became subject to jokes,’ added BT’s chief sports writer Anders Pamer.
‘Norwegian entertainment shows (focused on it) and also on the radio with podcasts… for a week or two Brann were really on everyone’s conscience in Norway.’
Brann’s first move was to put out that players had not been given a green light to host a party inside the stadium after hours.
Bergen newspaper Bergens Tidende was the first to go public with the 12-player party
From there the dominos fell so fast it was hard for the club, the reporters and the fans to keep up.
Kristoffer Barmen was first to stand in the firing line as he became the first player to reveal to the Bergensavisen newspaper that he was at the party.
‘I understand that people in Bergen are disappointed in us, so am I. I hope we can stand together and in the long run maybe be forgiven,’ he said.
‘We managed to dig a damn big hole. It’s incredibly disappointing. It is difficult for me to stand here.’
Barmen was a cult hero at Brann having been at the club since the age of 10. His dad Rolf was formerly the chairman of the club and is now the CEO of Fjordkraft, one of their main sponsors.
Barmen’s involvement was staggering.
While Barmen’s transgression – although it was clear he did not act alone – was being digested the club fired out a press release to reveal Vegard Forren, once on the books at Southampton and among the 12 at the party, had agreed to terminate his contract.
Sources close to Brann said this was not in light of his involvement in the party and was a decision that was weeks in the making but it has been met with a great level of scepticism among fans.
‘It was an evening that went too far and we should have gone to bed,’ Forren later said.
‘I think it was a very bad decision of all the players and it is clear this is unfortunate.’
Drinking and sex formed party of the evening, following on from a team-bonding dinner
STATEMENT FROM PLAYERS AT THE PARTY
MONDAY AUGUST 23
We regret that we showed poor judgment by gathering at Brann Stadium the night before Tuesday, 10 August. We fully understand that this has created reactions and we apologise to everyone who loves Brann and Norwegian football. At the same time, it is important for us to emphasise that we do not recognise ourselves in many of the descriptions in the media – and rumours on social media circulating about the gathering at Brann Stadium.
We want to be clear that we completely dissociate ourselves from drug use. We drank alcohol, and no other drugs were taken at Brann Stadium, we know. We were not involved in, or observed, sexual activity this night.
There have been demands that we come forward with our stories from the party. We did this early on to our employer. Now this has become a personnel matter and therefore we do not want to comment on this further. We ask for your understanding.
We are a group of players who stand together – our goal is to restore trust in the Brann supporters, the club and everyone else with a heart for Brann.
Signed by: Daniel Pedersen, Sivert Heltne Nilsen, Markus Olsen Pettersen, Mathias Rasmussen, David Møller Wolfe, Ole Martin Kolskogen, Thomas Grøgaard, Eirik Holmen Johansen and Lars Krogh Gerson.
More salacious detail appeared in online newspaper Dagbladet. It became the first publication to confirm the presence of the seven women, detailing the clear breach of the Covid regulations at the club, as well as domestically with the league’s binding Covid contracts.
Again Brann found themselves under a tidal wave of pressure. The media presence at the training ground had increased ten-fold and in a bid to get to grips with the escalating situation there was a vow to move on.
‘They have broken internal rules, they have apologised and understood the seriousness, and now it is a matter we are moving on from,’ General Manager Vibeke Johanessen told BT.
It came across publicly as a ‘case closed’ approach which drew waves of criticism from those who wanted to see significant punishment levelled out.
Then came the bombshell that ensured the case would remain top of the news agenda for the weeks to come.
On the Friday morning, news arrived from the west district police department that one unnamed player was to be investigated on allegations of rape.
The alleged breach in question, which has since been dropped by authorities, focused on section 291 of the Norwegian Penal Code which, to boil it down, deals with sexual intercourse with violence or threatening behaviour.
Immediately Brann entered into crisis meetings and staff members such as Johanessen were interviewed for witness statements by police. Club officials were locked in meetings at the stadium until 11pm,
A Saturday press conference saw Johanessen joined by other members of the club’s management where it was revealed that both Barmen and goalkeeper Mikkel Anderson had been excused and would not play in Sunday’s match.
It was categorically denied that either player was a suspect in the police investigation but the two were said to be ‘mentally tired’ amid the backlash.
Rumours were rife in the community as to what exactly happened behind closed doors at the party.
The suggestion that stadium CCTV captured something akin to an orgy has been disputed and is said to be false, according to Brann, but the speculation around which players were involved, who had sex, who was drinking and were drugs involved continued unabated.
Players strenuously denied allegations of drug use but the club persisted to push for voluntary urine drug tests.
‘Based on the rumours that narcotic drugs have been involved, we are now working on how we can practically carry out tests of both people and areas at the Stadium,’ said Johannesen.
Those urine tests later came back negative, the club confirmed, and the players’ consistent denials of all drug use was vindicated.
FANS HAVE THEIR SAY (BY SAYING NOTHING!)
Erlend Vagane lives and breathes Brann and heads up the Battalion, the dedicated supporters’ club that follows the team across the country.
‘Mostly by coincidence I heard details about the party the night before it broke in the media,’ he told Sportsmail.
‘We were at the very bottom of the table and we were desperate already and then this story of the party came out. How deep can we fall? That’s how it felt. It felt like a slap in the face.’
Fans came together to stay silent for 19 minutes and eight seconds in the first game after it all
Fans had been outraged at the drinking scandal in and of itself. With Brann dead last in the league, nobody in the dressing room needed it spelling out how bad the optics looked.
But what followed brought a level of embarrassment that fans such as Vagane have never previously been exposed to.
‘It was a fight or flight situation for a lot of supporters,’ he added, speaking to us from his home in the city.
‘Should we keep on supporting them? It’s always been known to be a bit of a basket-case club. We never win anything even though we are one of the biggest clubs in Norway and so it’s always ‘nothing goes right’ for us.
‘This was really existential for a lot of fans. Should we stop going to the matches or should we try to keep fighting to rebuild the club?’
A ‘scum’ banner was placed outside the stadium in the days leading to the first match post-scandal. Players became public enemy No 1.
Mayor of Bergen – and SK Brann fan – Rune Bakervik spoke to Sportsmail about the scandal’s mark on the Norwegian city
Sandefjord travelled to Brann in the middle of this crisis. In the end many puffed out their chests, disembarked the Bybanen rail service that runs from the city to the ground and many, Vagane included, felt a sense of responsibility to the city, not the players, to be there.
Rune Bakervik, the newly appointed Mayor of Bergen and lifelong Brann supporter who once occupied the position Vagane now holds, proudly displays a club mug on his desk in his minimalist office.
The fire, which ‘Brann’ translates into English as, burns bright.
At 50 he has suffered the disappointment of the yo-yo years of the 1980s, a league title in 2007 and relegation in 2008 but the passion still burns. However, the scandal left him in a quandary.
‘I was very mad hearing and reading about this,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘It made me think I don’t want to attend the next game because there was so much anger in me.
‘The city of Bergen and Brann co-exist in a kind of way. Everyone in Bergen has an opinion on Brann and in a way it defines us when the club does well because everyone is happy.’
With Vagane and Bakervik among the scattered support – Covid-19 rules had restricted the ability for clubs across Norway to pack out their terraces – a remarkable silence befell the stadium for 19 minutes and eight seconds.
SK Brann was founded in 1908.
The silence felt hugely symbolic and when Brann opened the scoring in the 18th minute through captain, and party-goer, Daniel Petersen, the vow of silence was largely upheld.
Even the PA announcer refrained a further 68 seconds before announcing the opening goalscorer. It was all totally surreal.
Trust was gone. The city had been shamed. The league had been brought into disrepute. And above all Brann were bottom staring relegation in the face.
‘It was a special moment,’ Pamer, who was among the packed out press box that day, explained.
‘It was obvious for all of us that they wanted to celebrate the team, the club and the colours but not one of the players.’
Brann, as they have done many times in this torrid season relinquished their lead and fell 2-1 behind following a brace from Kristoffer Hansen.
What followed was a fightback that allowed Brann the chance to kickstart the process of cleaning the slate. There would be a long way back but when Robert Taylor slotted in a penalty to seal a 3-2 win the emotion was flowing.
Stood arm in arm in front of the fans, players didn’t know if they were loved or loathed.
‘We wanted to make a clear statement about how we feel about this (scandal) and at the same time start at zero, start again,’ Vagane explained.
‘After 19 minutes and 8 seconds we start again from there. After that we try to make a rebirth of the whole club. It kind of felt like it; it was really emotional.’
FAN FAVOURITE SACKED
As emotional as the ending of facing Sandefjord was, matches proved little more than a sideshow as everything was burning off the field.
Barmen and Andersen continued to stay away from training when Monday morning rolled round and Johanessen’s position was now the one under serious threat.
A shareholders’ meeting ended with chairman Birger Grevstad announcing he will support his GM to navigate this enormous crisis.
Things began to unravel quicker and quicker. Within 48 hours of Andersen returning to training and vowing to ‘give everything for the club, the whole city and all the fans’ he had asked to terminate his contract.
‘People showed up at the door,’ Andersen explained. ‘Someone has tried to contact us. I have my wife, daughter and son here. It’s violent.’
And so Foren and Andersen were gone and on the Friday, almost two weeks on from the night in question, Barmen, who had only signed a new four year deal with Brann in the summer, was sacked for what was later termed a ‘lead role’ in the party.
Fan favourite Kristoffer Barmen was sacked as he was seen as a ‘lead’ in organising the party
‘It was a difficult but at the same time very interesting case,’ Eirik Moren, Barmen’s lawyer on behalf of the Players’ Union (NISO), told Sportsmail.
‘I would say this is the first time in my career as a sports lawyer where we have a case where it has been the players’ fault to a certain degree. Normally we go after the club for their misbehaviour or for a lack of payment or something so it was a new situation for us.
‘Normally we can just attack but in this case we had to be more gentle in the approach.
‘Some of our concerns, in our view, the lack from the club in following up with their employees during the process which we weren’t satisfied with. That is not to excuse what the players have done but the employer still needs to take care of their employees despite the circumstances of the case.’
Barmen, who has since joined second division Aalesund until the end of the season, declined to speak when contacted by Sportsmail as part of this story.
His dismissal was a bombshell that fueled the story once more. The club’s parting words specified once again that he was not the player under police investigation.
Even with three players at the party gone – and a fourth to follow with Thomas Grøgaard sold to Strømsgodset before the month was out – a cloud remained hanging over the side.
Manager Horneland demanded the remaining players came forward and publicly identified themselves as having broken the rules, to do so would bring closure, that was at least the belief.
Led by captain Pedersen, the players – Sivert Heltne Nilsen, Markus Olsen Pettersen, Mathias Rasmussen, David Møller Wolfe, Ole Martin Kolskogen, Thomas Grøgaard, Eirik Holmen Johansen and Lars Krogh Gerson – came forward flooded with remorse.
‘We regret that we showed poor judgment by gathering at Brann Stadium the night before Tuesday, 10 August,’ a statement from the players read.
Captain Daniel Pedersen (right) was at the party but is now leading the redemption story
‘We fully understand that this has created reactions and we apologise to everyone who loves Brann and Norwegian football.’
Sponsors, while fiercely loyal to Brann, remained troubled by the negative publicity that was threatening to swallow the club.
Reporting was aggressive in pursuit of the truth and a number of team sponsors contacted by Sportsmail confirmed they sought out emergency meetings with Brann.
Sparebanken Vest has been the main sponsor of Brann since 2004 and they stood defiant in the face of adversity.
‘We have stood by Brann in good times and in bad,’ a spokesperson told Sportsmail. ‘As a sponsor, we have a commitment to this club and our long term engagement and commitment remain firm.’
Jan Kjerpeseth, CEO of Sparebanken Vest, added on his own Facebook page: ‘We all know that it is easier to tear down than to build up. Now Brann is facing a long uphill climb where they must first and foremost build trust.
‘It requires openness, commitment and co-operation. Just as the team on the field is no better than the weakest link, everyone off the field must pull in the same direction to build up.
‘We have a long-term commitment to Brann, the city of Bergen and Western Norway. It’s stuck. Even when it is darkest.’
Sportsmail also spoke to BOB, Telia, Møllerens and Tide, all of which have stood by the club as sponsors.
POLICE STEP UP
The undercurrent to this whole episode was two criminal police investigations that came to light 11 days apart.
‘It is an incredibly difficult water to stand in,’ boss Eirik Horneland told broadcaster TV2.
‘But I am very happy that the police are working on the two cases and then we get a final conclusion from there.’
Being shamed publicly was one thing, shunned through silence at matches but now two unnamed players were being investigated by police over serious charges.
Both, through their lawyers, professed their innocence. Repeatedly new statements dropped, accompanied with a fresh denial.
On one hand police were looking into a rape allegation and on the other one woman complained to police that she was bitten by a player.
The biting case was resolved first. The outcome was to charge the player and hand him a fine of 10,000 kroner (£1,000), which the player accepted. His lawyer stressed that he did not admit to any criminal guilt, and simply accepted the fine to finish the case.
Pressure mounted on Brann’s General Manager Vibeke Johannesen as she co-operated with police as part of two police investigations. One concluded while the other was chucked out
Meanwhile, investigations into the rape allegation continued. Police charged the player with rape on August 26, and sent their verdict to the public prosecutor in Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane.
It took another two months for the public prosecutor to come to a decision.
‘I have today decided that the rape case will be dropped on the position of the evidence. I have come to the conclusion that the criminal court’s strict evidentiary requirements have not been met in this case,’ public prosecutor Ellen Cathrine Greve wrote on October 21.
TIMELINE OF THE BRANN SCANDAL
MONDAY AUGUST 9
Twelve first-team players hold a party at the stadium without permission. It happened after a team bonding dinner in the city centre.
TUESDAY AUGUST 10
Brann chiefs spend most of the day in crisis meetings after learning of the players’ escapade. At midnight the drinking scandal hits the front page of newspaper Bergens Tidende.
Brann’s general manager Vibeke Johannesen says that none of the players had received dispensation to go into the city.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 11
Kristoffer Barmen tells Bergensavisen that he was one of the 12 party participants. He admits that they lost control during the night.
Meanwhile, Brann send out a press release to confirm that midfielder Vegard Forren, who was also at the party, had had his contract terminated. The club say that it had nothing to do with the party in question.
THURSDAY AUGUST 12
Dagbladet reveal for the first time that seven women attended the party with players at the stadium.
Brann are criticised after stating that none of the players would be banned as they were ‘moving on’ from the scandal.
FRIDAY AUGUST 13
Police confirm they have launched an investigation into an alleged sexual assault at the party.
Brann spend all of Friday night in crisis meetings after co-operation with the police via witness statements during the day. Senior management are seen leaving as late as 11pm following talks on how to punish the players.
SATURDAY AUGUST 14
Most players train on Saturday but it is confirmed that Barmen and goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen had been excused for ‘mental fatigue’ and neither would be in the squad for Sunday’s match against Sandefjord.
Brann later go public that they want to offer drug tests to players following ‘rumours’
SUNDAY AUGUST 15
Fans protest against the scandal in the match against Sandefjord with silence for 19 minutes and 8 seconds, which was to correspond to the club’s founding year of 1908.
Sandefjord raced into a 2-1 lead at the break, but in the second half Brann turned the match around and won 3-2.
MONDAY AUGUST 16
Andersen and Barmen miss training again while pressure builds on General Manager Vibeke Johannesen for her handling of the scandal.
TUESDAY AUGUST 17
Senior figures hold another emergency meeting to discuss the future of Johannesen. It ends with a short statement from chairman Birger Grevstad who says they ‘stand together’ and the board ‘have confidence’ in her
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 18
Goalkeeper Andersen returns to training and vows to ‘give everything for the club’ moving forward.
A Brann press release reveals that Andersen’s family home has been targeted by angry fans in light of his participation at the party becoming public
THURSDAY AUGUST 19
After being urged by management to come clean on which players were involved, captain Daniel Pedersen suggests a list of the offending players is imminent.
FRIDAY AUGUST 20
Barmen, who signed a four-year deal in the summer, is sacked.
It later emerges that Andersen has chosen to terminate his contract with Brann. Ten players receive a serious written warning over their conduct.
MONDAY AUGUST 23
All 12 players involved in the party are named for the first time. Players co-sign a letter of apology to the management and the supporters.
TUESDAY AUGUST 24
A second police investigation is triggered when one of the women alleges that she was bitten by one of the players during the late-night party
THURSDAY AUGUST 26
Police charge the unnamed player who was being investigated for a sexual assault.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 27
The player accused of violence, specifically biting, is charged and fined 10,000kr (£1,000). The player accepts the fine but maintains innocence through his lawyer
THURSDAY OCTOBER 21
The public prosecutor brings the sexual assault case to a close due to insufficient evidence. The woman in question’s legal team deliberate an appeal
Following victory over Sandefjord, Brann suffered back-to-back defeats to Strømsgodset and FK Haugesund, both by a 3-1 scoreline.
However, hope of a resurgence came after the Bergen outfit went on a seven-game unbeaten run.
That came to an end on Sunday with a 1-0 defeat to Valerenga. And with three of the last five matches of the season against top four opposition Brann still have work to do to survive.
Currently second bottom of the Eliteserien, in a league where two go down automatically, their best hope is to scramble into the relegation play-off place, which they are only one point adrift of.
In a way the galvanising effect of the scandal may yet save the season.
‘It’s actually just added to the story of a special season,’ Bøyen added.
‘All these dramatics, it’s part of a rollercoaster season but this will be forever this club’s biggest scandal.’
Horneland, who was crowned manager of the month for September, deserves an immense amount of credit for the job he has done.
Promoted to the role as manager on August 10, the day of the scandal breaking, the episode could easily have swallowed him whole and yet he emerged as one of the few with reputation enhanced.
Addressing the concerns of supporters head on in the days that followed he has looked to be open and transparent and while certainly not without fault, he has stood out as someone to rally behind.
Fans realised how desperate the situation that they found themselves in was and they rallied
Brann have since galvanised and lifted themselves off the bottom of the top flight table
And so when he dropped to his knees, fists clenched and tears in his eyes after the late win over Sandefjord, it was hard not to feel a sense of relief for a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The question which brings different answers out of all is whether the scandal will go on to define the city of Bergen outside of Norway.
Bakernik and Vagane do not believe it will, convinced that better things can come from such a shameful expose.
For reporters like Bøyen, the landscape of Norwegian football, not just here at Brann, will never be the same again.
He concluded: ‘I think it has left a mark. No football team in Norway will ever have a party at like this ever again.
‘That might sound like big words but due to all the fuss this has created I think the football teams will think twice before doing anything like this again.’