Football Australia has launched an investigation into the alleged accusations of abuse while encouraging players to come forward and file official complaints. The move comes after Australia’s second most prolific goal scorer, De Vanna claimed that throughout her career she was subjected to sexual harassment, indecent assault, grooming, and bullying by senior players.
Talking to the media, De Vanna said she has witnessed cultural problems at all levels throughout her 20-year career and that such behaviour needs to have “consequences” and “accountability.”
Rhali Dobson, another participant, says she has also been the victim of predatory behaviour.
Earlier on Tuesday, in a statement, FA said that it takes a “zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game”.
FA said that it had spoken with De Vanna and was aware of her “grievances,” but that the specific allegations made public on Tuesday were not discussed at that time.
FA added, “We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001. In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly. The same process is open to Rhali Dobson and other former players and staff to formally bring forward any claims.”
Meanwhile, in a collaborative effort with Sport Integrity Australia, the FA is working to establish an extra mechanism to objectively examine claims of past abuse made by former players or staff. The details of that effort are still being worked out.
In a statement, Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill, co-chief executives of Professional Footballers Australia, expressed their “deep concern” over the players’ accusations.
They said, “All players should feel safe, included and respected. It is critical that the sport provides a safe and inclusive workplace and, importantly, the players are supported to come forward. The PFA has reaffirmed all support and reporting mechanisms available to players and will continue to ensure that the full resources of the PFA are available to all current and former players.”
The latest abuse allegations in women’s football come after accusations of abusive behaviour in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States surfaced, prompting the resignation of Paul Riley, one of the league’s most successful coaches, and Lisa Baird, the league’s commissioner.
In response to a tweet by US star Megan Rapinoe, De Vanna said, “I agree @mPinoe but I have witnessed W my eyes.. women protecting women who abuse women. Players protecting senior players who abuse younger players. Organisations protecting ‘coaches/players’ who abuse players. Abuse is abuse. Poor behaviour is poor across all boards!” [sic]
De Vanna scored 47 goals in 150 games for Australia. Her international career came to an end last month when she announced her retirement.