Warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault
Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw has said she was raped and sexually assaulted by three different men involved in Dutch football.
The 59-year-old, who played for the Netherlands and managed them for six years, has been the Irish boss since 2019.
In a statement posted on Twitter, she said: “For 35 years I have kept a secret from the world, from my family, from my teammates, from my players, from my colleagues and, I can now accept it, from myself.”
She says she was raped by a “prominent football official” when she was a young player – and later sexually assaulted by two other men.
All three were employed in Dutch football at the time of the incidents, according to his statement.
In response, the Dutch FA said they had launched an independent investigation in the past, with Pauw’s cooperation, and admitted making mistakes.
“We recognize the errors identified in the report and this should not have happened to her. It is unacceptable that Vera did not experience the safe working environment to which she was entitled at the time,” he said. declared.
Pauw added that she was exposed to systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, bullying and intimidation while in the Dutch team as a player and coach.
“For the past 35 years, I’ve kept the abuse private. I’ve let the memory control my life, fill me with daily pain and anguish, dominate my inner feelings,” she said.
“To many, I am seen as a brash and boisterous football coach and manager, a tough woman who rose to the top in a man’s world. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
She says she filed five reports with the Dutch FA without getting a satisfactory response and so recently reported the offenses to the Dutch police.
The Dutch FA said: “We at the KNVB are very shocked by the experiences from the not recent past that Vera Pauw told us about in a conversation last year.”
An independent investigation “showed that the KNVB should have approached a number of issues differently”.
He found that Pauw had been the subject of errors and harmful comments by Dutch FA employees and that the KNVB had failed to respond sufficiently to Vera’s first “early signals in 2011 regarding sexually transgressive” or did not have the right policies in place.
He said that in another 2017 conversation about Pauw’s experiences, she “explicitly” asked them not to do anything.
Pauw said: “That [going to the police] it’s already the beginning of the end for me but i know there will be more heartbreak to come. Stories may appear in the Dutch media about my horrific ordeal and I know claims may be made against me in an effort to tarnish my story,” she said.
She says she hopes others who have gone through similar experiences “will now feel brave enough to come forward and share their stories.”
His statement also asked “what’s left of my private life” and thanked the Football Association of Ireland for their support.
“I have always felt safe and I continue to feel safe and supported in Ireland and I can’t tell you how good it feels,” she said.
“It’s who I am, I don’t have to hide anymore. I hope to be able to continue my life in complete freedom.”
A statement from the FAI read: “The FAI has offered her all the support she may need on a personal and professional level.
“The FAI is absolutely aware of the impact these revelations will have on Vera’s well-being and has assured her of the full and continued support of the FAI Board and all of her association colleagues.”
The Dutch FA said it would take action on the report’s recommendations.
- If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, there are details of organizations that offer advice and support to http://bbc.co.uk/actionline or you can call 0800 066 066. Lines are open 24 hours a day and calls are free.