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Vera Pauw, former Dutch player, denounces having been a victim of sexual violence by Federation employees


The current Ireland coach breaks the silence at the age of 59: she suffered abuse 35 years ago when she was a footballer and they continued when she started training

Vera Pauw is 59 years old.

Since 2019 she has managed the Irish women's team.

She is Dutch, a former soccer player, she also managed her country's national team between 2004 and 2010. On Friday night she wrote a letter on Twitter in which she confesses to having been a victim of sexual abuse when she was a player and coach in the Netherlands. .

“For 35 years I have kept a secret from the world, from my family, from my teammates and work and from my players.

I can already accept it,” she writes.

“Even the people closest to me were unaware of the rape I suffered at the hands of a prominent football official when I was a young player.

Subsequently, I suffered two more sexual assaults by two other men.

All three were working in Dutch football at the time of these incidents.

Only those I can trust have known about the systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, harassment, intimidation, isolation and incrimination I was exposed to in Dutch football as a player and national team manager.”

Pauw is considered the founder of women's football in the Netherlands.

She started playing at the age of 13 and she was the first national soccer player to sign for a foreign club: Modena, in 1988.

More information

The great scourge of child abuse in sport

The former soccer player (who led the women's team to the semifinals of the 2009 European Championship and who has directed several other teams) says that for 35 years she has kept the abuse she suffered private.

“I have allowed the memory of her to control my life, to fill me with daily pain and anguish, to dominate my inner feelings.

For many, I am a cheeky coach who has carved a niche in a world of men, nothing could be further from the truth.

“For the last few years, I have tried to have my case heard fairly by the football authorities in my country, but to no avail.

Some people would rather keep my rape and sexual assault a secret than offer me the support I need by sharing this story.

I need to do it, share it with the world, I can't keep quiet anymore, ”she describes.

According to Pauw, he asked the Dutch Federation, to which he submitted five reports, to open an investigation.

"It was in vain," he says.

For this reason, too, he went to report the facts to the police.

“This is who I am, I don't have to hide anymore.

I hope I can continue my life in freedom.

I know that going public is going to put the spotlight on my life in a way I've never experienced before, but I also hope that other young female footballers and coaches who were exposed to something like the rape and abuse I suffered now feel brave enough. enough to step forward and share their stories”, adds Pauw.

This same Friday night, the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB, in its Dutch acronym) has issued a statement in response to the report published by the

NRC Handelsblad

newspaper , which includes the story of the sexual abuse suffered by the athlete.

According to this note, Pauw explained to them last year in detail what happened.

“In view of the situation, it was decided to commission a report from Verinorm, an independent consultant specializing in security and integrity.

This signature was proposed by Vera herself,” the KNVB statement read.

The consultant, according to the Federation, has spoken with 22 people, "18 of whom were called at the request of Vera, and given that some of the matters investigated were experienced differently by those involved, the investigation set out to seek the truth and point out the facts and their circumstances.

The results should have only reached the hands of Vera and those responsible for the federation, "but they have been published outside of our control," she stresses.

The newspaper, which has done its own investigation of him, ensures that he has contacted 25 people, including the man accused last June of rape by Vera Pauw.

“He reluctantly acknowledges that they had a relationship, but he denies any inappropriate behavior.

She feels 'persona non grata' in the football federation”,

The Verinorm consultancy points out that the KNVB "was not alert" to the first signs of sexual abuse described by Vera in 2011. "Although it was not explained directly then, this should not serve as an excuse for the lack of federal response" , is recognized in the federal statement.

Then it is added that, in 2017, Pauw "explicitly requested that no action be taken on this matter."

According to the KNVB, "the possibility of going to the police was raised later, as part of the investigation, but the affected decided not to go ahead."

Pauw, on the other hand, says in his letter that he did report the events to the police.

“We respect your decision to protect her, but we should have done more.

We recognize the errors indicated by the report, and it is unacceptable that Vera did not find the safe work environment that she was entitled to.

We have seen the enormous effect caused by what happened and we regret it.

We want to apply the recommendations of the report as soon as possible” concludes the federation.

Pauw's is the second earthquake to shake Dutch football in a few months.

Last February Marc Overmars, sports director of Ajax, was fired for harassing club workers.

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has asked all victims of inappropriate behavior to report it.

"It can be done anonymously, through the person of trust of the clubs, or directly at the federation."

Dutch clubs, for their part, are required to report such incidents to the KNVB.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-07-02

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