THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ireland women’s soccer coach Vera Pauw has said that she was raped by a “prominent football official” in 1986 and sexually assaulted by two other men when she was a player in the Netherlands.
Pauw made the claims in a report that was published Saturday in respected Dutch newspaper NRC and in a statement she posted on Twitter. The official was not identified in Pauw’s statement or the NRC story.
“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,” Pauw wrote. “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.”
NRC wrote that the alleged rape happened at Pauw’s home in 1986.
In an interview with the NRC, the coach said he was “stunned by the allegation” and denied that a rape happened.
“Nothing inappropriate has happened in that regard,” he told the newspaper.
Pauw also said that, as a player and as coach with the Dutch national team, she was exposed to “systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, bullying, intimidation, isolation and framing.”
In a written reaction posted on its website, Dutch soccer association KNVB said it was “extremely shocked” by Pauw’s experiences, which she discussed with the association last year, discussions that led to an independent investigation.
The KNVB said that the investigation “shows that the KNVB should have approached a number of issues differently. For example, Vera has unfortunately been confronted in the past with a number of errors (of judgment) and harmful comments from (former) KNVB employees.”
The association said that the investigation found “that there was no plan or policy of the KNVB behind this,” but said it is “unacceptable that Vera did not experience the safe working environment to which she was entitled at the time. In personal contact with Vera we have experienced that this situation unfortunately has a deep impact on her and we are sorry.”
The Football Association of Ireland gave Pauw its backing.
“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,” it said.