Allegations of harassment rock Australian women’s football

Football authorities in Australia (Football Australia) have urged players to file formal complaints in any case of sexual harassment or misconduct after one of the country’s leading international goalscorers alleged that he had been groomed and abused by a number of senior players early in his career.

Lisa De Vanna, who played in 150 games for Australia and is second on the list of all-time leading goalscorers for the women’s national team with 47 goals, said she first experienced harassment and bullying in 2001 when she joined the women’s national team. at the age of 17 years.

He told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that he was ambushed from behind by several of his team-mates and tried to free himself from them by kicking and screaming.

Lisa De Vanna (Australia, number 11) during the Rio Olympics, Brazil, August 12, 2016. (REUTERS/Mariana Bazo)

Lisa De Vanna (Australia, number 11) during the Rio Olympics, Brazil, August 12, 2016. (REUTERS/Mariana Bazo)

”They thought it was funny. I’m just a young boy from Perth, I don’t know the difference. I… wanted to punch them,” said De Vanna. “As a young person and a player, I don’t know how to deal with this… but it’s still happening at all levels and it’s time to talk.”

De Vanna announced his accusations after a scandal erupted in the United States, where the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) canceled a game last weekend and its commissioner resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving an incumbent coach.

The NWSL went into a tailspin last week after two former players disclosed allegations of abuse, including sexual assault, against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

The North Carolina Courage celebrate their victory over the Chicago Red Stars by taking a picture with the championship trophy after the NWSL championship soccer game in Cary, NC, October 27, 2019.

The North Carolina Courage celebrate their victory over the Chicago Red Stars by taking a picture with the championship trophy after the NWSL championship soccer game in Cary, NC, October 27, 2019.

Riley was immediately sacked by the club, and both FIFA and US football authorities opened investigations into why he was able to continue coaching even after players raised their concerns with the league. Riley told sports website The Athletic that the allegations were “completely untrue”.

De Vanna initially reacted on social media to a tweet by US soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who posted the message “Men protect men who abuse women” in response to the NWSL scandal.

De Vanna posted that he agreed with Rapinoe, but he also witnessed “women protecting women who abuse women” and “players protecting senior players who harass young players” and organizations protecting “coaches/players” who harass players.

He stated, “Harassment is harassment. Bad behavior occurs at all levels!’.’

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, De Vanna said she witnessed a culture of abuse at all levels, against both men and women, and she urged women to stand up against it because they are not alone.

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

Lisa De Vanna (yellow shirt, number 11), during the quarter-final match of the Women's Soccer Tournament in Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, December 8, 2016. (REUTERS/Mariana Bazo)

Lisa De Vanna (yellow shirt, number 11), during the quarter-final match of the Women’s Soccer Tournament in Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, December 8, 2016. (REUTERS/Mariana Bazo)

Football Australia said it met with De Vanna and “heard his complaint” but specific allegations were not raised at the meeting.

“If Lisa (De Vanna) chooses to file a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if necessary, take appropriate action,” Football Australia said in a statement released late Tuesday. “We encourage anyone to raise their concerns through the official complaint process to Football Australia.”

Australia’s national players’ union (PFA) said it was “deeply concerned” by the claims. In a statement the PFA said: “It is imperative that the world of sport provides a safe and inclusive environment and, importantly, players are encouraged to speak up.” [ab/uh]

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