The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has offered its "full support" to Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw after she issued a statement claiming she was raped and sexual assaulted several years ago.
Sharing a statement on Twitter, Pauw tweeted: "This has been the toughest thing in my life but, finally, I'm ready to move on and be proud of who I am."
The statement reads: "Even those closest to me have not known of the rape I endured at the hands of a prominent football official when I was a young player.
"Later two sexual assaults by two other men were added to this record. All three men were employed within Dutch football at the time of these incidents."
This has been the toughest thing in my life but, finally, I'm ready to move on and be proud of who I am
Vera 💚 pic.twitter.com/27v25nFViP
— Vera Pauw (@verapauw) July 1, 2022
"Only those I can trust have known until now of the systematic sexual abuse, abuse of power, bullying, intimidation, isolation and framing I was exposed to as a player and as National Coach in Dutch football."
Pauw added that she has allowed the memory of the abuse to "control my life, to fill me with daily pain and anguish, to dominate my inner feelings".
She said she has "for the past number of years" tried to have her case heard by Dutch football authorities "to no avail".
"Some people would rather keep my rape and sexual assaults quiet than offer me the support I need by opening this story to the world. I can no longer share the silence," Pauw wrote.
She says that following her fifth report to the Dutch FA, to which she failed to get a "satisfactory response", she said she reported the alleged incidents to Dutch police.
"I know going public is going to throw the spotlight on my life in a manner I have never experienced before, but I also hope that other young footballers and coaches who were exposed to anything like the rape and abuse I suffered will now feel brave enough to come forward and share their stories."
I have always felt safe and continue to feel safe and support in Ireland and I cannot tell you how good that feels.
Pauw added this will not be an easy time for her or her family, urging people to "respect what is left of my privacy".
She also thanked her "Irish backroom staff and players, the FAI's management and Board, all my FAI colleagues and the Ireland fans" for the support shown to her during her time as manager.
"I have always felt safe and continue to feel safe and support in Ireland and I cannot tell you how good that feels.
"I hope that support will continue in Ireland for me now that I have shared my story and my pain."
In a statement issued following her tweet, the FAI said it fully supports Pauw "at this difficult time in her life as she makes very brave revelations about her past".
"Vera has engaged on this matter with the Association’s senior leaders for some time now and the FAI has offered her all the backing she may need on a personal and professional level.
"The FAI is absolutely aware of the impact these revelations will have on Vera’s well-being and have assured her of the ongoing full support of the FAI Board and all her colleagues at the Association."
The statement added that the FAI will be making no further comment on the matter at this time.
Responding to a request from Breakingnews.ie, the Dutch football association, KNVB offered a statement on the matter in Dutch, in addition to a "quick translation" in English.
"At the KNVB, we are very shocked by the experiences from a not recent past that Vera Pauw told us about in a conversation last year."
The statement added that a joint decision was made by Pauw and KNVB for an investigation to be carried out, with Pauw's choice, Verinorm - "a research agency that specialises in social safety" - commissioned to carry out the investigation.
Verinorm spoke to 22 parties as part of the probe, 18 of whom where suggested by Pauw, the KNVB said.
"Since a number of matters were experienced differently by those involved at the time, the sole purpose of the report was to find the truth and map out facts and circumstances, which would only be discussed by Vera, Verinorm and the KNVB.
"However, the report has been publicised (outside of our control)."
The KNVB said the investigation revealed the association "should have approached a number of issues differently" and "was not sufficiently alert to Vera's first signals in 2011 about sexually transgressive behaviour".
This situation unfortunately has a lot of impact on her and we are sorry for that.
"The report states that these signals were veiled, but that should not be an excuse if such a theme comes up in any way."
The KNVB added that in a later conversation with Pauw in 2017, she "explicitly asked us not to take any action".
"After consultation between Verinorm and Vera – after all pros and cons have been weighed up – Vera has decided not to elaborate on this subject. We have respected that choice. The intention was to protect Vera, but we should have taken other paths."
The association said it acknowledged the errors highlighted by the investigation, adding it is "unacceptable that Vera did not experience the safe working environment to which she was entitled at the time".
"In personal contact with Vera, we have experienced that this situation unfortunately has a lot of impact on her and we are sorry for that.
"We want to discuss the recommendations from the report internally and with Vera as soon as possible, but very carefully so that we can take action. Also with a view to recovery mediation," the statement concluded.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.