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Republic Of Ireland Boss Vera Pauw Says She Was Raped By A 'Prominent Official' When She Was A Young Player

Rory O'Callaghan

| Last updated 

Republic Of Ireland Boss Vera Pauw Says She Was Raped By A 'Prominent Official' When She Was A Young Player

Republic of Ireland head coach Vera Pauw says she was raped by a "prominent football official" in the Netherlands during her playing career.

Former Netherlands international Pauw, who was appointed head coach of Ireland's women's team in 2019, said in a statement on social media that she was raped by the official when she was a young player.

Pauw also claimed she was sexually assaulted by two other men employed in Dutch football later on in her career.

Pauw has been in charge of the Irish women's team since 2019 (Image: Alamy)
Pauw has been in charge of the Irish women's team since 2019 (Image: Alamy)

Pauw, who has also previously managed Scotland, the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa, accused the Dutch football association (KNVB) of failing to open a full investigation after she reported her claims.

The 59-year-old, who made 89 appearances as a player for the Netherlands, wrote on Twitter: "For these past 35 years I have kept the abuse private. I have allowed the memory of it to control my life, to fill me with daily pain and anguish, to dominate my inner feelings.

"To many I'm seen as a brash and loud football coach and manager, a tough woman who has risen to the top in a man's world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"For the past number of years I have tried to have my case heard in a fair and just manner by the football authorities in the Netherlands but to no avail.

"Some people would rather keep my rape and sexual assaults quiet than offer me the support I need by opening this story to the world. I can no longer share the silence."

Pauw says she filed five reports to the Dutch FA without receiving a satisfactory response and has now reported her claims to the Dutch police.

"Trust me, my story is very real and very true," she added.

"I know going public is going to throw the spotlight on my life in a manner I have never experienced before, but I also hope other young footballers and coaches who were exposed to anything like the rape and abuse I suffered will now feel brave enough to come forward and share their stories."

The KNVB said it had been "shocked" by Pauw's revelations and admitted it had "not been sufficiently alert to Vera's first signals in 2011 about sexually transgressive behaviour".

"As a result, we have jointly decided to have research done. Vera wanted this to be carried out by Verinorm, an independent research agency that specialises in social safety," the KNVB said in a statement, as reported by The Guardian.

"This independent investigation shows that the KNVB should have handled a number of things differently.

"In the past, Vera has unfortunately been confronted with a number of [estimation] errors and harmful comments from [former] KNVB employees. With the investigation, Verinorm also found that there was no plan or policy of the KNVB behind this."

The statement added: "We want to discuss the recommendations from the report internally and with Vera as soon as possible but with the utmost care so that we can set out actions. Also with a view to recovery mediation."

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has said it has given Pauw its "full support" as she "makes very brave revelations about her past".

"Vera has engaged on this matter with the association's senior leaders for some time now and the FAI has offered her all the backing she may need on a personal and professional level," read an FAI statement.

"The FAI is absolutely aware of the impact these revelations will have on Vera's wellbeing and have assured her of the ongoing full support of the FAI board and all her colleagues at the association."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Republic of Ireland, Ireland, Women's Football, Football

Rory O'Callaghan

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