HomeFootballFAI 'stands down' three men following female players' allegations

FAI ‘stands down’ three men following female players’ allegations


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By Marie Crowe and Mark Tighe

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has issued “stand down” orders to three former coaches who were active in women’s football, RTÉ Investigates understands.

The orders, which restrict the men from any involvement in official Irish football activities, were issued in March after the FAI became aware of a joint investigation by RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent.

Details of that investigation are to be covered by RTÉ online over the coming days, and in a major documentary on RTÉ One television on Sunday night, as well as published in a special report in the Sunday Independent newspaper and on the Irish Independent website.

Former players have alleged that coaches engaged in inappropriate relationships with players, while two of the men are accused of making unwanted sexual advances on players.

The FAI’s concerns and complaints policy gives it the power to issue stand down orders to any person who is the subject of a complaint or inquiry by a statutory body. It is made for the immediate protection and safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons and is not a determination of wrongdoing by any individual.

After meeting with some of the women who have come forward in February, the FAI alerted both An Garda Síochána and Tusla to the allegations made by the women.

All the former coaches deny any wrongdoing.

According to FAI rules, a stand down order is issued to an individual “to immediately refrain from particular activities within the FAI for a specified or indefinite period pending the outcome of an enquiry or investigation in accordance with FAI Rules.”

Yesterday, it was revealed that An Garda Síochána has opened an investigation into one former senior football coach.

A separate complaint has also been made about a second senior coach.

Read more: Garda probe into allegations from female former soccer players

The women’s allegations came to light during an investigation conducted jointly by RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent over a two-and-a-half-year period.

The joint investigation interviewed dozens of players. Several have spoken on camera about their experiences.

In reaction to the story, Catherine Martin, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, described the allegations as “very shocking.”

“I have been assured that the Football Association of Ireland, as the National Governing Body for the sport, is engaging and co-operating with the live Garda investigation into these allegations, with an athlete-centred approach,” she said in a statement on Thursday evening.

“I commend the bravery of the women who have stepped forward,” she added.

In a statement, the FAI said it was “shocked and appalled to learn of disturbing allegations of abuse brought forward by women involved in Irish football in the 1990s.”

The FAI said it had met with some of the women to listen to and acknowledge their experiences, while also offering support.

The Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI) has been providing support to the women over the last six months.

The FAI has asked that anyone who experienced harm or abuse from Irish football to contact an independent contractor, Raiseaconcern, which it has hired to take statements from complainants.

Raisaconcern’s contact numbers are 01 6107929 or 086 0299929. It can be emailed on football@raiseaconcern.com.

Anyone who wishes to contact the team behind the joint investigation with information can contact marie.crowe@rte.ie or mark.tighe@independent.ie

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