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Ireland women’s soccer coach Vera Pauw says she was raped by prominent Dutch official as a young player

Pauw also said she was sexually assaulted by two other men working in Dutch football


Vera Pauw. Picture: Sportsfile

Vera Pauw. Picture: Sportsfile

Vera Pauw. Picture: Sportsfile

Ireland women’s football manager Vera Pauw says she was raped by a “prominent football official” employed by Dutch football early in her career.

Ms Pauw said she was subsequently sexually assaulted by two other men also employed by Dutch football.

The 59-year-old released a statement on social media this evening, saying it has been “the toughest thing” in her life to reveal.

Ms Pauw alleges that as a young player she was raped by a “prominent football official” and later two men also employed by the organisation sexually assaulted her.

She said she has kept the abuse private for 35 years but has tried to have her case heard by football authorities in the Netherlands “but to no avail”.

Her statement reads: “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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“Even those closest to me have not known of the rape I endured at the hands of a prominent football official when I was a young player.

“Later two sexual assaults by two other men were added to this record.

"All three men were employed within Dutch football at the time of these incidents.

“Only those I can trust have known until now of the systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, bullying, intimidation, isolation and framing I was exposed to as a player and as a National Coach in Dutch football.

“For these past 35 years I have kept the abuse private.

“I have allowed the memory of it to control my life, fill me with family pain and anguish, and dominate my inner feelings. To many I am seen as a brash 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.

“For the past number of years I have tried to have my case heard in a fair and just manner by the football authorities in the Netherlands but to no avail.

“Some people would rather keep my rape and sexual assaults quiet than offer me the support I need by opening this story to the world.

"I can no longer share the silence.

"After failing to get a satisfactory response to my request for action on an investigation initiated by the Dutch FA following my fifth report to them, I recently reported by rape and sexual assaults to the Dutch police.

“That 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.

"I take full responsibility for what I did and what I failed to do.

"Trust me, my story is very real and very true. I now going public is going to throw the spotlight on my life in a manner I have never experienced before but I also hope that other young footballers and coaches who were exposed to anything like the rape and abuse I suffered will now feel brave enough to come forward and share their stories.

“This will not be an easy time for me and for my family and for now I ask you all to respect what is left of my privacy.”

Ireland’s women’s team has gone from strength to strength under Ms Pauw and the national team is in with a chance of qualifying to play at the next World Cup.

In a statement released this evening, the Football Association of Ireland said it has given its full support to Ms Pauw “at this difficult time in her life as she makes very brave revelations about her past.”

The statement continued: “Vera has engaged on this matter with the Association’s senior leaders for some time now and 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.

“The FAI will be making no further comment on this matter and asks the media to respect Vera’s privacy at this very difficult time.”

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