HomeFootballFAI 'appalled' by claims of abuse from former players

FAI ‘appalled’ by claims of abuse from former players


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The Football Association of Ireland has said it is appalled that women involved in Irish football had “experienced serious historical abuse and manipulative behaviour”.

The FAI held a media briefing this morning in response to allegations from numerous female footballers about alleged unwanted or inappropriate sexual advances from FAI coaches in the 1990s.

It follows revelations from yesterday’s joint investigation by RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent in which former international players, along with trainees who took part in Ireland’s first State-funded all-women soccer course, said that their experiences derailed their careers and damaged their lives.

Five of the 20 trainees on the FAS course allege they were the subject of sexual advances from their head coach Eamonn Collins, who is now a football agent.

Several women on the Leixlip course said they thought they were “the only one”. They were shocked to learn that former teammates had also made allegations against Collins.

In a statement issued after the briefing, which was attended by FAI Interim CEO David Courell, as well as People and Culture Director Aoife Rafferty, the FAI said it is treating the allegations “with the utmost priority and seriousness”.

The association added that having met the women involved it “acknowledges their tremendous courage in coming forward to report their experiences. They have reopened very dark periods of their lives in order to ensure that these matters are finally addressed and never happen to anyone else.

“The association believes unequivocally that everyone involved in Irish football should at all times feel that they are in a safe environment and that the appropriate processes and practices are in place.”

Acknowledging that the women’s game should have had more care, the FAI said it has already taken several actions, including providing support to the women affected, reporting to statutory bodies, and putting in place precautionary measures to protect current players.

“We have a long road to travel to create trust with the women,” the officials said.

The Association has also launched a safeguarding awareness campaign, “Play It Right” and established a helpline for the reporting of any serious concerns in confidence.

Yesterday, a group representing the women affected said they want their pain to be the next generation’s gain.

In a statement issued via the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland, the Sportswomen Against Abuse group called on the FAI and other sporting bodies to learn lessons from their experiences by taking the appropriate steps to ensure this never occurs again.

Responding on X last night, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Equality Thomas Byrne said it was “harrowing” to hear the stories featured in the Girls in Green programme.

“In every sport, safeguarding must be paramount, and I will be working with Sport Ireland to ensure that everything that should be done in Ireland today regarding safeguarding is actually being done,” he wrote.

The FAI has asked that anyone who experienced harm in Irish football can contact Raiseaconcern on 01 6107929 or 086 0299929 or email football@raiseaconcern.com.

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