The Irish Football Association has given its full support to the head coach of the women’s national team, Vera Pauw, after her revelations of rape and sexual abuse.
Former Dutch defender Pauw, who has been in her role for almost three years, has said in a statement on social media that she was raped by “a prominent soccer official” when she was a young player.
The 59-year-old, who previously managed the women of Scotland, the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa and made 89 appearances as a player for her country, also claimed she was sexually assaulted by “two other men”.
In a statement on Twitter, Pauw accused the Dutch football association of trying to keep his ordeal quiet by refusing to open a full investigation.
The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) admitted that it did not respond quickly enough when Pauw was first approached about the allegations and that it had made mistakes, but said it has passed the case on to an independent investigator, as Pauw requested.
The FAI, which appointed Pauw in September 2019, said in a statement: “The FAI has given its full support to Republic of Ireland women’s senior team manager Vera Pauw at this difficult time in her life, as who makes very brave revelations about his past.
“Vera has been engaged on this issue with the heads of the association for some time now and the FAI has offered her all the support she may need on a personal and professional level.
“The FAI is fully aware of the impact these revelations will have on Vera’s well-being and has assured her of the continued full support of the FAI board and all her colleagues in the association.
“The FAI will not comment further on this matter and asks the media to respect Vera’s privacy at this very difficult time.”
Pauw thanked the FAI, its players and backroom staff for their support. In a statement posted on Twitter, Pauw said: “For these last 35 years I have kept the abuse private. I have allowed his memory to control my life, to fill me with daily pain and anguish, to dominate my inner feelings.
“To many, I am seen as a brash and loud football coach and manager, a tough woman who has risen to the top in a man’s world. Could not be farther from the truth.
“For the past few years, I have tried to have my case heard fairly and fairly by the football authorities in the Netherlands, but to no avail.
“Some people would rather keep my rape and sexual assault a secret than offer me the support I need by opening this story to the world. I can no longer share the silence.
Pauw said he had reported his ordeal to the Dutch police, adding: “Trust me, my story is very real and very true. I know that going public will put the spotlight on my life in a way I’ve never experienced before, but I also hope that other young footballers and coaches who were exposed to something like the rape and abuse I suffered now feel brave enough to come. . forward and share their stories.”
The KNVB said it was “very shocked” by Pauw’s revelations and acknowledged that his response had been unacceptable. “As a result, we have jointly decided to conduct an investigation. Vera wanted this to be carried out by Verinorm, an independent investigative agency that specializes in social security,” the KNVB said.
The governing body said it “had not been sufficiently alert to Vera’s first signs in 2011 of sexually transgressive behaviour”.
“This independent investigation shows that the KNVB should have handled several things differently,” the statement said. “In the past, Vera has sadly faced a number of [estimation] mistakes and harmful comments from [former] employees of the KNVB. With the investigation, Verinorm also found that there was no KNVB plan or policy behind this.”
The KNVB added: “We want to discuss the report’s recommendations internally and with Vera as soon as possible but with the greatest care so that we can establish actions. Also with a view to recovery mediation.”