Damian Willoughby: why did Chelsea sack commercial director after four weeks, and who is agent Catalina Kim?

Chelsea have sacked their commercial director Damian Willougby after discovering he sent ‘inappropriate texts’. Catalina Kim and next fixture explained

Just a couple of weeks after Chelsea announced they had sacked their manager, Thomas Tuchel, the Blues have now announced they have terminated the contract of their commercial director Damian Willoughby.

The Telegraph first reported the story and it is suggested Willoughby sent improper messages to a female football finance agent, named as Catalina Kim, before he joined the club last month.

Ms Kim had been involved with Nick Candy’s bid to buy the West London club in March after Roman Abramovich was forced to sell the Blues.

Chelsea’s now former commercial director had previously worked with the Blues from 2007 to 2010 as well as having worked for Manchester City and EA Sports, but most recent stint at the club has lasted just four weeks.

Kim is the founder and chief exectuive of C&P Sports Group and offered support in British Property tycoon Nick Candy’s bid to buy the Blues, before American Todd Boehly’s consortium were finally able to complete the takeover in May.

Todd Boehly, Chelsea’ new owner
Todd Boehly, Chelsea’ new owner
Todd Boehly, Chelsea’ new owner

What has Chelsea said?

A club spokesperson told The Telegraph: “Chelsea confirms that it has terminated commercial director Damian Willoughby’s employment with immediate effect.

“Evidence of inappropriate messages sent by Mr Willoughby, prior to his appointment at Chelsea FC earlier this month, has recently been provided to and investigated by the club.

“While they were sent prior to his employment at the club, such behaviour runs absolutely counter to the workplace environment and corporate culture being established by the club’s new ownership.

“The club’s owners are working tirelessly to set and achieve the highest standards both on and off the pitch, and we are determined to establish and nurture a culture of transparency, accountability, inclusivity, diversity and opportunity.

“The club is committed to creating an environment which embodies these values.”

Who is Catalina Kim?

Ms Kim is a football finance agent and owner of a sports agency company.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim is currently the only female Asian football agent in Europe. She has a background in the fashion industry as well as having worked for the South Korean Embassy in London.

She soon set up her own sports agency C&P Sports, which employs 28 people in London, Frankfurt and Seoul. The company has brokered multi-million pound deals between Asian brands and European football clubs as well as advising on commercial viability across the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga.

It is believed the pair first met back in 2015 when Mr Willoughby was vice-president head of partnership sales for the City Football Clubs, the stable of clubs including Manchester City, with whom Ms Kim had been working on various deals.

Speaking in an interview with We Are The City, Kim has spoken of the sexism and racism she has endured throughout her career: “The European football world has never really worked with women or Asians until very recently.

“So when I do experience sexism and racism in the market, I am willing to allow time for my peers to become familiar with me and learn how to work with non-white European males.

“I wish this understanding and acceptance progressed faster, but the fact is it is progressing.”

What is reported to have happened?

Ms Kim is first said to have reported the incidents shortly after Mr Willoughby’s employment at Chelsea was confirmed.

The C&P founder held talks with Chelsea’s president of business Tom Glick on behalf of overseas investors who wished to put hundreds of millions of pounds into the Blues’ vaious academies.

However, these talks soon stalled when Mr Willoughby was added into the equation. Ms Kim reportedly sent several screenshots of messages she had received from Mr Willoughby to Mr Glick.

The 38-year-old female football agent also claimed to have been sexually harassed before his employment in West London as well as alleging she felt threatened over the telephone.

It was then not long before Mr Willoughby was informed his contract with the Blues had been terminated with immediate effect.