An independent investigation into the treatment of female footballers is to be launched by Football Australia, after Matildas great Lisa De Vanna said she suffered abuse at the hands of other players during her 20-year career.
De Vanna, Australia’s second highest goalscorer, claims she suffered sexual harassment, indecent assault, grooming and bullying from senior players, in what she described as a toxic culture within the sport.
She detailed a series of incidents that she claims occurred in team environments, including one where she says she had to fight off teammates who set upon her.
“I was pulled down from behind and dry-humped by a few of my teammates. I fought my way off the floor kicking and screaming. They thought it was funny,” De Vanna told News Corp. “I was just a young kid from Perth, I didn’t know any different. I lost my shit and wanted to punch them.”
De Vanna also claims she experienced sexual harassment from players, detailing an incident that occurred in a shower where she alleges she received unwanted advances from other players.
She also pointed to a culture of protecting abusers in a tweet over the weekend, suggesting she had seen women shielding other women who abused females in the game as well as organisations protecting coaches and players who abused female players.
Football Australia said it recently received a complaint from De Vanna, and they plan to meet. However, FA claims allegations made by De Vanna in the interview were not included in her complaint. The game’s national governing body has invited other players, coaches, past or present to come forward if they have experienced similar abuse.
“Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game. To that end, we encourage anyone to bring forward their concerns through Football Australia’s formal complaints process under the Member Protection Framework, with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,” a Football Australia statement read.
“Over and above Football Australia’s formal complaints handling protocols, 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.”
De Vanna is viewed as one of the greatest players to play for Australia, having scored 47 goals in 150 appearances and featured in four World Cups.
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