Ireland boss Vera Pauw says she was raped by a 'prominent football official' 4 months ago

Ireland boss Vera Pauw says she was raped by a 'prominent football official'

TW: This story contains some descriptions of sexual assault

Vera Pauw says she was raped and sexually assaulted by three different men

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Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw says she was raped and sexually assaulted by three different men involved in Dutch football.

Pauw, who has been the Ireland boss since 2019, released a statement stating that she was raped by a "prominent football official" when she was a young player and was later sexually assaulted by two other men.

The 59-year-old played for the Netherlands and managed them for six years before coming Russia manager. In a statement released on Twitter, she said:

'For 35 years I have kept a secret from the world, from my family, from my team-mates, my players, my colleagues and, I can now accept, from myself.'

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Her statement added that all three men were employed in Dutch football at the time of the alleged incidents. 

'Nothing could be further from the truth'

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Pauw also said that she was exposed to systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, bullying and intimidation in her time in the Dutch organisation, as both a player and manager.

"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," she added. 

"To many I am 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."

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Dutch FA launched an independent investigation in the past

The Dutch FA has since admitted it had made mistakes, and said it had previously began an independent investigation in the past, with Pauw's co-operation. 

A statement read: "We acknowledge the errors identified in the report and it 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."

The Republic of Ireland manager claims she filed five reports to the Dutch FA, but did not receive a satisfactory response. Therefore, she recently reported the offences to the Dutch police.

The Dutch FA said: "At the KNVB we are very shocked by the experiences from a not recent past that Vera Pauw told us about in a conversation last year."

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Investigation 'showed KNVB should have approached a number of issues differently'

An independent investigation "showed that the KNVB should have approached a number of issues differently", finding that Pauw had been subject to errors and harmful comments from Dutch FA employees.

As well as this, her "first signals in 2011 about sexually transgressive behaviour" were not responded to sufficiently.

It said that Pauw "explicitly" asked them not to take any action in a further 2017 conversation about her experiences. Pauw said:

"That [going to the police] already feels like the beginning of the end for me but I know there will be more heartache to come. Stories may appear in the Dutch media of my horrific ordeal and I know claims may be made against me in an effort to tarnish my story."

The 59-year-old says she hopes that others who have had similar experiences "will now feel brave enough to come forward and share their stories".

Her statement also asked for "what is left of my privacy" and thanked the Football Association of Ireland for its support.

"I have always felt safe and continue to feel safe and supported in Ireland and I cannot tell you how good that feels," she said.

"This is who I am, I don't have to hide any more. I hope I can continue my life in freedom."

An FAI statement read: "The FAI has offered her all the backing 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 have assured her of the ongoing full support of the FAI board and all her colleagues at the association."

If you are affected by topics in this article, support is available from 'Rape Crisis' on 1800 77 8888