Football Australia has urged players to come forward and make formal complaints after historical allegations of abuse were made by Matildas great Lisa De Vanna.
De Vanna, Australia’s second most prolific goalscorer, alleges she was subjected to sexual harassment, indecent assault, grooming and bullying from senior players throughout her career.
Speaking to News Corp, De Vanna said she had seen cultural problems at all levels during her 20-year career and that there needed to be “consequences” and “accountability” for the behaviour.
Another player, Rhali Dobson, also claims she has been a target of predatory behaviour.
In a statement released late on Tuesday, FA said it takes a “zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game”.
FA said it had met with De Vanna and was aware of her “grievances”, but the specific allegations made public on Tuesday were not raised during that meeting.
The game’s governing body urged De Vanna and others to lodge formal complaints, at which point it said the matter could be thoroughly investigated.
“We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001,” FA said. “In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly.
“The same process is open to Rhali Dobson and other former players and staff to formally bring forward any claims.”
Meanwhile, FA is seeking to create an additional process to independently investigate allegations of historical abuse brought forward by former players or staff in a joint initiative with Sport Integrity Australia. Details of that initiative are yet to be finalised.
Professional Footballers Australia’s co-chief executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said they were “deeply concerned” about the players’ allegations.
“All players should feel safe, included and respected,” a statement read. “It is critical that the sport provides a safe and inclusive workplace and, importantly, the players are supported to come forward.
“The PFA has reaffirmed all support and reporting mechanisms available to players and will continue to ensure that the full resources of the PFA are available to all current and former players.”
It comes after allegations emerged of abusive behaviour in the the National Women’s Soccer League in the US and anger at the league’s response, leading to the departures of one of the league’s most successful coaches, Paul Riley, and the NWSL commissioner, Lisa Baird.
De Vanna responded to a comment on social media by US star Megan Rapinoe, saying she had witnessed: “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!”
De Vanna made 150 appearances for Australia, scoring 47 goals. Her international career came to an end last month when she officially retired after she was overlooked by new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson.