Australian football star Matildas alleges sexual abuse


Australian football authorities urge players to report sexual abuse after Lisa De Vanna, the country’s most prolific second scorer, said she was abused and bullied at the age of 17 when she joined the national women’s team.

Lisa de Vanna (2L) Samantha Kerr (2R) and Leena Khamis of Australia celebrate a goal against Equatorial Guinea during their Women’s World Cup Group D soccer match in Bochum on July 3, 2011. (Reuters)

Australian football authorities have urged players to press charges in all cases of sexual abuse or misconduct after one of the country’s top international scorers claimed she had been treated and harassed by senior players in Australia. the start of her career.

Lisa De Vanna, who has played 150 games for Australia and finished second on the women’s national team’s all-time scoring list with 47 goals, said she had been the victim of harassment, abuse and bullying for the first time in 2001 when she joined a women’s national team at 17.

She told the Daily Telegraph in Sydney that she was pulled from behind by a few teammates and “I struggled to get out of the ground kicking and screaming”.

“They thought it was funny. I was just a kid from Perth, didn’t know the difference. I… wanted to hit them, ”De Vanna said. “As a youngster and a player I didn’t know how to solve this problem… but it still happens at all levels and it’s time to talk.

De Vanna has gone public with her allegations following the scandal in the United States, where the National Women’s Soccer League canceled games over the weekend and its commissioner resigned amid allegations of bullying and misconduct involving a longtime trainer.

The NWSL was rocked last week when two former players brought forward allegations of harassment, including sexual coercion, against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

Riley was immediately sacked by Courage, and FIFA and US Soccer opened investigations into why he was able to continue coaching even after players raised concerns with the league. Riley told The Athletic the allegations were “completely untrue”.

READ MORE: Former Brazilian gymnastics trainer suspended for life over sexual abuse allegations

“Abuse is abuse”

De Vanna first reacted on social media to a tweet from great American footballer Megan Rapinoe, who posted the message “Men protect men, who abuse women” in response to the NWSL scandal.

De Vanna posted that she agreed with Rapinoe, but she had also seen “women protecting women who mistreated women” and “players protecting senior players who mistreated young players” and organizations protecting ” coaches / players ”who mistreated players.

“Abuse is abuse. Bad behavior is bad at all levels! “

‘Deeply concerned’

In the Daily Telegraph story, De Vanna said she saw “cultural issues at all levels – men and women – and girls have to be brave, and girls who have been through this have to be brave too. and know they are not alone. “

“In any sport organization and in any environment, grooming, hunting and unprofessional behavior make me sick.”

De Vanna retired from professional football last month after playing for clubs in Australia, the United States, England, Sweden and Italy.

Football Australia said they met De Vanna and “heard his grievances”, but the specific allegation was not raised at the meeting.

“In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be able to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly,” Football Australia said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

“We encourage anyone to raise their concerns through Football Australia’s official complaints process.”

The national players’ union, Professional Footballers Australia, said it was “deeply concerned” by the allegations.

“We recognize that the decision to speak publicly would not have been taken lightly,” the PFA said in a statement. “It is essential that sport provides a safe and inclusive workplace and, above all, that players are supported to come forward. “

Source: AP

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