Gary Gannon TD

The weekend revelations concerning the abuse of young women players represent the lowest point in the history of scandals involving the Football Association of Ireland, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson on sport, said:

“It was deeply unsettling to watch the RTÉ Investigates/Sunday Independent documentary as it revealed harrowing details of historic abuse allegations, dating back to the 1990s, by young women against FAI coaches – all men who were in positions of authority and initially trusted and respected by the players.

“The latest controversy engulfing the FAI exemplifies the power imbalance that lies at the heart of men’s abuse of women. It exposes the culture of misogyny and male entitlement that has pervaded Irish football’s governing body for decades.

“Today’s apology from the FAI, while appropriate, will not compensate or make amends for the unforgiveable absence of safeguards that should have been in place to protect these young women, whose dreams of representing their country were shattered by such appalling behaviour.

“It is extraordinary to think that there was a complete absence of guidelines covering the inappropriateness of relationships between adult coaches and women who were still in their teens at the time.

“There is some confusion now about the nature of the safeguarding policies that are in place at the FAI. In recent weeks, the FAI appears to have been scrambling to update its safeguarding policies in response to queries received from the two exceptional journalists involved in exposing this scandal.

“According to the RTÉ Investigates programme, there is no FAI policy in place which deals with player and coach relationships – and there never has been. It stated that such a policy was now being finalised. However, at a press conference today, the FAI said such a policy was in place – but it didn’t extend to women’s League of Ireland clubs. This urgently needs to be clarified.

“The FAI should immediately publish its safeguarding policy; clarify when that policy came into being; clarify when the policy was communicated to members and coaches; and explain why the policy has not been extended to all coaches in the organisation.

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that women and girls training with the FAI today are protected and that appropriate safeguards are in place.

“Last night’s programme is another reminder that domestic, sexual and gender-based violence has been an epidemic in Ireland for decades – and continues to be.”

July 8, 2024

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