After Marc Overmars, another director in Europe’s top clubs lost his career because of soliciting and sexually harassing women. That is Chelsea’s commercial director Damian Willoughby, who has only been in office for two weeks.
Damian Willoughby had just been appointed as commercial director by Chelsea two weeks ago. The man worked at Stamford Bridge from 2007 to 2010. After that, he gathered more experience at other corporations, including City Football Group and EA Sports. With a long history of achievements, Willoughby is trusted by Chelsea’s new owners to maximize revenue business off the pitch.
However, Willoughby’s flourishing career fell apart in the blink of an eye because of his disgraceful behavior over the past year. The CEO of the sports brokerage, C&P Sports Group, Catalina Kim, accused Willoughby of trying to solicit her several times before coming to Chelsea, and engaging in many acts of a sexual nature.
According to a British media investigation, Catalina Kim screened Willoughby’s “unacceptable” text messages and sent them directly to Chelsea’s head of sales, Tom Glick. She sent a total of 8 photos, with Willoughby repeatedly asking for sex despite being rejected.
It all started in June last year, when Kim implying Willoughby to approach the CEO of Manchester City, Ferran Soriano, At that time, Willoughby was joining City Football Group, and this was within his reach. However, instead of offering a price or asking for money, Willoughby demanded to spend the night with Kim.
Throughout their conversation, Willoughby always found a way to intersperse obscene words. In the end, Willoughby bluntly said that he would only help Kim if he was given “a wild night between the two of them.”
Despite being rejected, Willoughby did not give up. In messages dated July 20, 2021, Willoughby even solicited Kim to send him nude photos. Because of work, Kim still tries to endure and reminds Willoughby that he has a family. However, her tactful warning had no effect. This despicable director goes one step further by sending her pornographic videos.
It was not until March of this year that Kim was able to end her working relationship with Willoughby. Notably, that was when she turned down an offer to join Willoughby in supporting a major investor acquisition of Chelsea, with bids on par with Boehly and Clearlake. This incident angered Willoughby and he cut off contact with Kim himself.
Petitioners in the narrow lane:
Willoughby started working with Catalina Kim in 2015, and he was always “upper door” compared to her. This is understandable, because Willoughby’s position allows him to have more decision-making power. Meanwhile, Kim’s task is to promote large contracts and earn a certain commission for her company. However, few people expect that this September, the balance between the two will turn around. On August 29, Tom Glick emailed Kim, announcing that Willoughby was the new commercial director of Chelsea. He arranged a meeting between the three on September 1 at Stamford Bridge to discuss the Blues’ business under the new reign. The narrow lane Immediately after that meeting, the first thing Kim did was to warn Tom Glick of the loyalty of Willoughby, who had unsuccessfully helped another party raise capital to buy Chelsea. On September 3—just 2 days before Willoughby officially joined Chelsea—Kim delivered a decisive blow when he submitted evidence that he had sexually harassed her many times in the past. Chelsea fired Willoughby after a two-week internal investigation. In a separate statement to the media, the Blues said: “Chelsea have fired commercial director Damian Willoughby. The evidence of inappropriate text messages sent by Mr. Willoughby prior to his return to Chelsea has been investigated by the club. Although that behavior took place before Willoughby took office, it is in stark contrast to the corporate culture that the new owners of the club have built.” Willoughby and his attorneys declined to comment on the case. However, this scandal is likely to make Willoughby’s hard-working career go up in smoke.
The reason Catalina Kim is silent
Catalina Kim confirmed she had denounced Willoughby to Chelsea’s big boss, and explained why she had not done this in the past. During the time of being harassed by Willoughby last year, Kim decided to keep quiet because she didn’t think she had to do business with him again. In addition, Kim does not want to risk other relationships when “unmasking” a senior in the profession.
No matter how famous are… melt into clouds
Earlier this year, a respected director of European football, Marc Overmars, also lost his job because of harassing female employees at Ajax. From Ajax, Overmars had to drift to a small Belgian club, Royal Antwerp, but continued to be opposed. Four major sponsors withdrew from Royal Antwerp after they appointed the former Dutch striker as director of football in March this year.