Football Australia to probe sexual abuse allegations by former players

Sydney, Australia, Oct 6 (EFE).- Football Australia has vowed to probe sexual harassment and intimidation allegations made by two former national team players.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the federation flagged its “zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game.”

To that end, it urged players to come forward and make formal complaints under the Member Protection Framework, “with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

The statement came after Matildas veteran Lisa De Vanna, who made 150 appearances for the Australian team before retiring in September, alleged that she was the victim of sexual harassment and intimidation by other teammates early in her career.

“Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracized? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes,” the 36-year-old De Vanna said.

“As a youngster and a player I did not know how to address this (…) but it is still happening across all levels and it is time to speak up.”

The athlete told News Corp, in an interview Tuesday, that the incidents occurred in the changing room showers with her teammates pulling her down and “dry humping” her.

Earlier she tweeted that she had witnessed with her eyes seniors abusing younger players.

“Women protecting women who abuse women. Players protecting senior players who abuse younger players. Organizations protecting ‘coaches/players’ who abuse players. Abuse is abuse. Poor behavior is poor across all boards,” De Vanna wrote.

Former player Rhali Dobson, 29, who retired last March, also alleged that she was a victim of sexual harassment as a youngster.

“A lot of it is pushed under the rug. It was a case of grooming when I first came on the scene,” she said.

She said it was still happening even at the highest levels, and the culture would not change “unless it is addressed.”

Football Australia, which took over the management of the sport in 2005, said they did not know about the allegations as the accusers had “not raised” them in their previous meetings with the federation.

“We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organization, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001,” it said.

“We have also been engaging with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) to develop an additional process for independently investigating allegations of a historical nature as they relate to former players and staff – such as Lisa and Rhali.”

The alleged sex scandal and a toxic culture in female football add to similar accusations in other sports disciplines like swimming, hockey, and gymnastics in Australia. EFE


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