Matildas captain Sam Kerr (pictured left) has described the national women’s soccer team as her “safe haven” as players respond to former Matildas star Lisa De Vanna’s allegations of historical sexual harassment and bullying.
De Vanna (pictured right), a former Matildas striker, played 150 games between 2001 and 2019. Last week, she alleged she suffered same-sex sexual harassment, abusive behaviour and bullying from senior players. The 36-year-old described a “toxic culture” within the sport.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, De Vanna recalled incidents as a teenager including being propositioned in the changing room showers and teammates making lewd comments toward her and pulling her down and “dry humping” her.
“There needs to be consequences,” she said.
“There needs to be accountability. I have seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years – from men and women.
“Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes.
“Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes.
“In any sporting organisation and in any environment, grooming, preying and unprofessional behaviour makes me sick.
“As a youngster and a player, I didn’t know how to address this.
“But it is still happening across all levels and it’s time to speak up.”
Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia have launched investigations into De Vanna’s claims.
Matildas sign joint statement responding to allegations
On Monday, the Matildas released a statement signed by each player acknowledging “the seriousness of Lisa’s allegations.”
“We empathise with her for not feeling like she could come forth earlier,” the players said.
“We’ll work with Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner.
“We all would like to reassure to our fans, family and friends that today we have a strong professional, inclusive and supportive culture that doesn’t condone any of [the alleged] behaviour.
“Our strong leadership ensures our cultural norms are appropriate for today’s professional sporting environment.”
Captain Sam Kerr (pictured left) was one of two dozen Matildas to give personal comments addressing the national team’s culture.
“I have been a part of this team for 12 amazing years, from 15 years old to now,” Kerr said.
“Throughout my career the Matildas have been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today.
“I count myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people.”
The team said they’d spoken at length about De Vanna’s claims and were “hurt” by what had occurred.
The Matildas described their disappointment at accusations of “not accepting differences” within its ranks.
“As a group, we represent the values reflective of Australia and that includes acceptance and inclusivity, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity or culture,” they said.
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