The Football Association of Ireland has given its full support to women’s national team head coach Vera Pauw after her revelations of rape and sexual abuse.
Former Dutch defender Pauw, who has been in the role for almost three years, said in a statement on social media that she was raped by “a prominent football official” when she was a young player.
The 59-year-old, who has previously coached women in 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 FA (KNVB) admitted they did not respond quickly enough when first approached by Pauw about the charges and made mistakes, but said they had referred the matter to an independent investigator, as requested by Pauw.
The FAI, which appointed Pauw in September 2019, said in a statement: “The FAI has given its full support to the manager of the Republic of Ireland senior women’s team, Vera Pauw, at this difficult time in her career. life as she makes some very courageous revelations about her past.
“Vera has been engaging on this issue with senior association leaders for some time now and the FAI has offered all the support she may need on a personal and professional level.
“The FAI is absolutely aware of the impact these revelations will have on Vera’s well-being and has assured her of the full and continued support of the FAI Board and all of her colleagues in the association.
“The FAI will not comment further on this and asks the media to respect Vera’s privacy at this very difficult time.”
Pauw thanked the FAI, its players and behind-the-scenes staff for their support. In a statement posted on Twitter, Pauw said: “For the past 35 years, I have kept the abuse private. I have allowed the memory of it to control my life, filling me with pain and anguish. everyday life, to dominate my inner feelings.
“To many, I am seen as a brash and boisterous football coach and manager, a tough woman who rose to the top in a man’s world. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Over the past few years, I have tried to have my cause heard in a fair and equitable manner by the football authorities in the Netherlands, but to no avail.
“Some people would rather keep silent about my rape and sexual assault than give me the support I need by opening this story to the world. I can no longer share the silence.
Pauw said she reported her ordeal to Dutch police, adding: “Believe me, my story is very real and very true. I know that going public will shine a spotlight on my life in a way that I have never experienced before, but I also hope that other young footballers and coaches who have been exposed to anything like the rape and abuse that I have suffered will now feel brave enough to come forward and pass on 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 jointly decided to have some research done. Vera wanted this to be done by Verinorm, an independent research agency specializing in social security,” the KNVB said.
The governing body said it had “not been attentive enough to early signals from Vera in 2011 regarding sexually transgressive behavior”.
“This independent investigation shows that the KNVB should have handled a number of things differently,” the statement said. “In the past, Vera has unfortunately faced a number of [estimation] errors and harmful comments by [former] KNVB employees. With the investigation, Verinorm also discovered that there was no KNVB plan or policy behind this.
The KNVB added: “We want to discuss the recommendations of the report internally and with Vera as soon as possible, but with the utmost care in order to be able to define actions. Also for recovery mediation.