HomeFootballMajor probe into ex-senior football coach after allegations of sexual misconduct

Major probe into ex-senior football coach after allegations of sexual misconduct

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GARDAI have launched an investigation into allegations by female players of “unwanted sexual advances” from a senior football coach in the 1990s

It comes ahead of the airing of a joint, two-year investigation conducted by RTÉ and the Sunday Independent.

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An Garda Siochana have launched an investigation into “unwanted sexual offences” by female players against a senior football coach

The programme, which will air on Sunday evening, will feature testimony from multiple former female players, former coaches and officials.

An Garda Siochana have launched a probe into a former senior football coach following allegations from female players that he made unwanted sexual advances on players.

Meanwhile, a separate complaint has been made about a second senior coach.

In a statement to the Irish Sun, An Garda Siochana said: “Any person contacting An Garda Síochána does so in the expectation of privacy and confidentiality.

“An Garda Síochána respects the confidentiality of engagements with private citizens, including correspondence or complaints which may or may not have been received from third parties.

“An Garda Síochána, through the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) are in contact with and continue to engage with a number of potential complainants.

“As with any engagements with potential victims of crime, An Garda Síochána continues to support these complainants in the manner and timeframe with which they are comfortable to engage with the criminal justice process.

“An Garda Síochána has commenced an investigation into at least one complaint.

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“An Garda Síochána is not in a position to provide any further comment at this time.”

In one case, a player said she was never selected again after she fled from her manager’s hotel room after he allegedly attempted to kiss her.

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Another player outlined how she believed she was “exiled” by a coach from their team after she said she saw him allegedly behaving inappropriately with players. 

The investigation looks at whether the absence of proper safeguards actually promoted an unhealthy dynamic between coaches and players.

It examines what measures the FAI took to ensure a secure environment for talented young girls who wanted to play soccer.  

The FAI recently announced it was introducing a new anonymous reporting mechanism.

This would be to allow players and others to flag concerns and report inappropriate behaviour to Raiseaconcern, an independent complaint handling firm.

‘Disturbing allegations’

A spokesperson for the FAI said: “The Association was shocked and appalled to learn of disturbing allegations of abuse brought forward by women in involved in Irish football in the 1990s. 

“The Association met with the women concerned, to listen to and acknowledge their experiences, while also offering support. Contact was made with An Garda Siochana and the Child and Family Agency, TUSLA, in accordance with mandatory reporting requirements and in line the Association’s own internal safeguarding and child welfare regulations.

“The Association acknowledges the enormous courage of the women in coming forward and making their concerns known and would encourage anyone involved in Irish football to report any concern that may arise.    

“The Association believes unequivocally that everyone involved in Irish football should at all times feel that they are in a safe environment and that appropriate safeguarding and reporting processes are in place and operating effectively.”

Anyone that has experienced any form of abuse or harm within Irish football, can contact independent and confidential service it has set up with Raiseaconcern on 01 6107929 or 086 0299929, or email football@raiseaconcern.com.

‘Very shocking’

Reacting this evening Sports Minister Catherine Martin said: “The allegations of historical abuse made by women involved in football in the 1990s are 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.

“The safeguarding of children and young adults in sport is absolute and there should be zero tolerance for any actions that endanger their welfare.

“I commend the bravery of the women who have stepped forward.
As Minister for Sport, I fundamentally believe that sport must be a safe place for children of all ages.”

RTE Investigates: Girls in Green will be broadcast this Sunday night in peak time on RTE One at 9.30pm, and available to stream worldwide on the RTE Player.

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