The bulk of the current Matildas squad have issued personal statements in response to Lisa De Vanna’s explosive allegations that rocked football last week.
“We acknowledge the seriousness of Lisa’s allegations about the past and we empathise with her for not feeling like she could come forth earlier,” a combined statement on behalf of the current playing group read.
“We will work with Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner. There must also be a trusted process to deal with these complaints.”
‘Biggest indictment’ arising from Matildas bombshell
Last week, De Vanna, Australia’s second highest goalscorer, claimed she suffered sexual harassment, indecent assault, grooming and bullying from senior players, in what she described as a toxic culture within the sport.
“We all – from our most capped players to our most recently capped – would like to reassure to our fans, family and friends that today we have a strong professional, inclusive and supportive culture that does not condone any of the behaviour mentioned within the numerous media articles about historical incidents,” the statement said.
“Our strong leadership ensures our cultural norms are appropriate for today’s professional sporting environment.”
De Vanna’s comments were supported by fellow former Matilda Renaye Iserief, who backed up the initial comments made by adding, “this toxic culture has been swept under the carpet for years”.
Today was the first public statement from any of the current players.
“As a group, we represent the values reflective of Australia and that includes acceptance and inclusivity, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity or culture,” the statement read.
“It was disappointing to observe conversations inferring the group is not accepting of differences, especially given the diversity that exists within our current leadership group on all those fronts, let alone across the broader team. We would also like to re-iterate the professional standards that surround the current team today. Women’s football has dramatically grown in recent years and so has our professionalism and standards.
“As a team, we have spoken at length about the allegations and are all hurt by what has occurred. We hold this team close to our hearts and for many, this team has been a safe haven. It has given us strength and purpose throughout our careers. We are together like a family in this, from our oldest to our youngest player, and the difficulties we’ve faced in the last week have only made us stronger as a group.
“We stand supportive of athletes who are able to come forward and report instances of inappropriate behaviour in their respective environments, and therefore welcome an independent review into this matter.”
READ MORE: England lock in ‘special’ Ashes squad
De Vanna, who scored 47 goals for her country, claimed that she experienced sexual harassment from players including an incident that occurred in a shower where she alleges she received unwanted advances from teammates.
An independent investigation into the treatment of female footballers in Australia is in the process of being set up.
“I have been a part of this team for 12 amazing years, from 15 years old to now,” Matildas captain and the team’s highest profile player Sam Kerr said in her personal statement.
“Throughout my career the Matildas have been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today. I count myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people.”
Kerr’s current teammates Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Alanna Kennedy, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tegan Micah, Clarke Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Karly Roestbakken, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams, and Tameka Yallop also issued personal statements.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!