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Sports Women Against Abuse

'Our pain will be the next generation's gain': Footballers speak out about alleged historical abuse

The allegations made by the women against two coaches came to light through a joint investigation by RTÉ and the Sunday Independent.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Jul

A GROUP OF football players who were allegedly subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of coaches during the 1990s have said their pain will be “the next generation’s gain”. 

The allegations made by the women against two coaches came to light through a joint investigation by RTÉ and the Sunday Independent.

Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating “at least one complaint” while they continue to speak with a “number of potential complainants” over the issue.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has told members that it is taking the allegations seriously.

A group representing the women, Sports Women Against Abuse have issued a statement ahead of tonight’s RTÉ Investigates programme about the historical abuse allegations. The Sunday Independent has also published an article covering the story today.

In their statement, the women said: “It’s hard to express in words the feelings that have defined our lives over the last 25 years or so.”

Over that period of time, the women said they had “buried our emotions and thought we were the only ones”.

“We blamed ourselves and hid our shame from our family and friends.”

The group said that it has only been in the last two years that “our eyes have been opened to what is systematic and calculated abuse inflicted on all of us and in different ways”.

The experience has made them stronger, more united and determined to make sure the abuse they suffered never happens again, they said.

“Our pain will be the next generation’s gain.”

“What we experienced should provide lessons for the future and we hope the FAI, and all other sporting bodies in this country, will take the appropriate steps to ensure it never occurs again on their watch,” they said. 

According to the Sunday Independent, five women have made complaints about a coach who oversaw a training camp in the 1990s, while others have made allegations about a different coach.

The women said that the matter is now being dealt with by An Garda Síochána and asked for their privacy and the legal process to be respected. 

The group thanked the Sunday Independent’s Mark Tighe, RTÉ’s Marie Crowe, the Professional Footballers Association Ireland, the Garda Technical Bureau “and all who attended our meetings to provide advice and support”.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio today, Minister of State Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said that women were “sick and tired” of having to suffer abuse like that alleged by the footballers. 

“The revelations in this investigation are yet another example of the things that women have had to put up with in different ways, particularly women in vulnerable positions, or, you know, with people in authority,” she said.

“And I think women up and down Ireland are absolutely sick and tired of it both historically and in a current way. And it just has to stop.”

Girls in Green, the TV programme about the investigation, will be broadcast on  RTÉ One and on the RTÉ Player at 9:30pm tonight.

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