Football Australia has responded to historical abuse claims made by former Matilda Lisa de Vanna, saying it is in the process of developing an independent investigation of historical allegations.
- Lisa De Vanna alleged she was subject to abuse for the first time when she was in the Young Matildas squad
- Football Australia said it would investigate any claims
- De Vanna’s former manager Rose Garofano said Football Australia’s statement was “not factually true”
De Vanna, 36, alleged she was bullied, sexually harassed and ostracised on a number of occasions during her stellar international career, in an explosive interview with The Daily Telegraph.
The recently retired star, who most recently played in the W-League with Melbourne Victory, alleged the abuse started when she was in the Young Matildas set up, aged 17.
The 150-cap Matildas legend spoke out after the US National Women’s Soccer League postponed matches last weekend as a result of allegations against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, claims he denied.
De Vanna responded to a tweet from US superstar Megan Rapinoe, which said: “Men protecting men, who are abusing Women” with her own allegations.
“I agree @mPinoe but I have witnessed W my eyes..
“Women protecting women who abuse women.
“Players protecting senior players who abuse younger players.
“Organisations protecting “coaches/players” who abuse players.
“Abuse is abuse. Poor behaviour is poor across all boards!”
In the Daily Telegraph article, De Vanna’s allegations were backed up by former teammate Elissia Carnavas and her manager, Rose Garofano.
Recently retired W-League player Rhiali Dobson also made claims of a toxic culture.
De Vanna — who quote-tweeted the Daily Telegraph article, saying: “Some things are bigger than the game!” — said in the article that she thought Football Australia were “ready to look into this now”.
While De Vanna received plenty of support for speaking out, current Matilda Elise Kellond-Knight queried the claims in a tweet.
“As someone who has been part of the national team set up for well over a decade, I’m unsure of this,” Kellond-Knight wrote.
De Vanna responded by saying, “What part KK?”
Football Australia responded with a statement in which they said any claims would be investigated.
“Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game.
“To that end, we encourage anyone to bring forward their concerns through Football Australia’s formal complaints process under the Member Protection Framework, with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
It added that it was “not appropriate to discuss individual cases” but had met with De Vanna in the past to hear her grievances, however “the specific allegations made public were not raised with us in that meeting”.
It added that it had “no knowledge” of whether De Vanna’s claims were investigated by Soccer Australia, the previous governing body, when first reported in 2001.
“The same process is open to Rhali Dobson and other former players and staff to formally bring forward any claims.”
Football Australia added that it was working with Sport Integrity Australia “to develop an additional process for independently investigating allegations of a historical nature”.
Garofano though, responded to that by saying Football Australia’s statement was “not factually true”, claiming she has tried for a year and a half to get a meeting with Football Australia.
“She finally met on 20.9.21. We submitted a request for Inquiry on 17.7.21 & still no response.”