FILE PHOTO: Lisa de Vanna (2L) Samantha Kerr (2R) and Leena Khamis of Australia celebrate a goal against of Equatorial Guinea during their Women's World Cup Group D soccer match in Bochum July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
October 7, 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) -Football Australia (FA) announced an independent complaint management procedure on Wednesday after recently retired international striker Lisa De Vanna said she had been the victim of sexual assault, harassment and bullying during her career.
De Vanna made her initial allegations in response to a Twitter post by Megan Rapinoe, in which the U.S. international commented on allegations of misconduct against former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.
The 36-year-old De Vanna, who played 150 times for her country over two decades, replied that she had witnessed women in the game abusing younger female players, and organisations protecting the abusers.
“There needs to be consequences. There needs to be accountability,” she said in an interview with News Ltd media.
“I have seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years – from men and women – and girls coming through need to be brave, and also the girls that have been through this also need to be brave and know they are not alone.
“Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes.”
FA said in a statement it would investigate any abuse allegations and Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) would oversee an independent complaints process for former players and staff.
“We’re committed to safe, inclusive environments for all footballers and staff,” FA chief executive James Johnson said.
“There is no place for abuse, harassment or bullying in our sport and it’s incumbent on organisations like ours to take the lead when it comes to dealing with these issues head-on.”
FA said it had approached SIA, a government agency that oversees doping and corruption in sport, recently to discuss an independent complaints procedure and Johnson welcomed the “timely” announcement.
FA said in a Tuesday statement it had met De Vanna to discuss her “grievances” but some of the allegations she made in the media had not been raised at the time.
Another recently retired Australian professional, Rhali Dobson, told New Ltd that she had been the target of predatory behaviour from senior women players.
Professional Footballers Australia, the players’ union, said it was deeply concerned about the allegations made by the former players.
“All players should feel safe, included and respected,” it said.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Stephen Coates)