We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

The FAI has said it is shocked. FAI

FAI says 'series of historical abuse allegations' from 1990s have been made by female players

Gardaí confirmed an investigation into at least one complaint is now underway and it is speaking to other potential complainants.


THE PRESIDENT OF the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has told members that it takes seriously a series of historical abuse allegations made by women involved in the sport in the 1990s.

Gardaí confirmed this afternoon that an investigation is now underway into “at least one complaint” while it continues to speak with a “number of potential complainants” over the issue.

FAI president Paul Cooke emailed members of the association’s General Assembly, a body comprising different branches of Irish football, to alert them to upcoming joint reporting by RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent about experiences of women playing the game in Ireland 30 years ago.

In an email to the General Assembly this afternoon, seen by The Journal, Cooke said that he wanted to make members “aware of an upcoming media story relating to a series of allegations of historical abuse of women involved in football in the 1990s”.

He added that “all safeguarding concerns” that are brought to the FAI’s attention are dealt with as “a matter of priority”.

“You may see the story promoted over the coming days and I wanted to give you the reassurance that the association is treating this matter with the utmost importance and is engaging both with the women involved and the relevant authorities,” Cooke added.

RTÉ announced this afternoon that it will broadcast its ‘Girls in Green’ documentary this coming Sunday night after a two-year investigation by journalists Mark Tighe of the Sunday Independent and Marie Crowe of RTÉ.

The broadcaster said it has spoken to a number of former female players, former coaches and officials.

It quoted an official response to its findings from the FAI, which said it was “shocked and appalled to learn of disturbing allegations of abuse brought forward by women involved in Irish football in the 1990s” and acknowledged the courage of those who had come forward.

The FAI told The Journal that its representatives met with “the women concerned, to listen to and acknowledge their experiences, while also offering support”.

From there, the FAI said it contacted gardaí and Túsla in accordance with “mandatory reporting requirements” and as part of the association’s own internal safeguarding and child welfare regulations.

“The association acknowledges the enormous courage of the women in coming forward and making their concerns known and would encourage anyone involved in Irish football to report any concern that may arise,” it said.

Minister for Sport Catherine Martin has described the news at “very shocking”.

Martin said: “I have been assured that the Football Association of Ireland, as the National Governing Body for the sport, is engaging and co-operating with the live Garda investigation into these allegations, with an athlete-centred approach.”

“The safeguarding of children and young adults in sport is absolute and there should be zero tolerance for any actions that endanger their welfare,” she added.

Martin commended the bravery of the women who have stepped forward. She added that she “fundamentally” believes that “sport should be a safe place for children of all ages”.

“This matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation by An Garda Síochána. As such it would not be appropriate for me as Minister for Sport to comment any further at this time,” she added.

With reporting by Emma Duffy

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.