FAI apologises to female ex-players over historical abuse allegations


The Football Association of Ireland has apologised to female former players who claim they “experienced serious historical abuse and manipulative behaviour”.

A joint investigation by Irish media outlets RTE Investigates and the Sunday Independent detailed how multiple female footballers were the subject of alleged unwanted or inappropriate sexual advances in the 1990s.

Former international players, along with trainees, said the abuse had damaged careers and shattered lives.

Speaking at a media briefing in Dublin on Monday morning, FAI interim chief executive David Courell apologised to the former players, saying: “We are sorry for what you had to endure, we’re sorry that anyone could have ever felt unsafe.

“We are sorry that the modern practises and reporting structures that we now have in place were not there for you when you needed them. And we’re sorry that anyone could have ever felt unsafe in Irish football.”

Dublin , Ireland - 8 July 2024; FAI people & culture director Aoife Rafferty, left, and FAI interim chief executive David Courell during an FAI media briefing held at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin, to address the allegations of abuse brought forward by women involved in Irish football in the 1990s. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
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FAI people & culture director Aoife Rafferty (left) and FAI interim chief executive David Courell addressed the media

An FAI statement read: “The Association is appalled that women involved in Irish football had experienced serious historical abuse and manipulative behaviour.

“The Association is treating these allegations with the utmost priority and seriousness.

“Having been afforded the opportunity to meet the women, the Association acknowledges their tremendous courage in coming forward to report their experiences.

“They have reopened very dark periods of their lives in order to ensure that these matters are finally addressed and never happen to anyone else.

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

The FAI says it has taken “immediate and appropriate action” since meeting the women involved, including providing support to individuals affected and reporting to statutory bodies.

Precautionary measures have also been put in place to protect current players, while a safeguarding awareness campaign called “Play It Right” has been launched.



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