FIFA fears recent abuse cases in women’s football are just ‘tip of the iceberg’

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FIFA’s Chief Education and Social Responsibility Officer, Joyce Cook, told Granthshala Sport’s Amanda Davis that there will probably be similar stories, and encourages people to come forward.

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“And what is clear is that part of making sure we have a safe game, it means that we also have to provide measures for those who are being abused and to make sure that no Even criminal is not only welcome but banned from the game.

“So I think we’ll definitely see a lot more cases. And so we should urge people to come forward and feel safe to do so.”


Former New Zealand international Rebecca Smith, who worked at FIFA between 2013 and 2018, says she was “shocked” at the lack of structure to report abuse.

“There was no set way to handle allegations or information on sexual abuse or sexual assault,” Smith told Granthshala Sport.

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“And then the only communication, internally, externally to those who presented complaints or issues, was just a lack of care and communication; it was really frustrating if I’m really honest, because I think That nothing is more important than the health and safety of the main characters in the game.”

“So I think it is much more prevalent, much more prevalent than what is in the public. And I think it needs to be a priority for the governing bodies and the people who are responsible for the health and safety of the players, “she added.

When authorized to respond to Smith’s comments, FIFA stated that its reporting system, BKMS, was introduced in 2013.

However FIFA’s challenge to tackle the issue of abuse in women’s football has another problem – unpaid fines.

“We charged $1 million,” Cook said. “I mean, we haven’t seen those fines paid. And we have no way of enforcing that, because you know, we have to approve individuals.”

‘Zero Stamina’

In a statement sent to Granthshala, FIFA said recent reports of abuse in football show it is a “big problem that affects all of us and that cannot be tolerated any longer.”

“FIFA has shown that football has a zero tolerance policy for cases of sexual abuse: anyone found guilty of misconduct and abuse will be brought to justice, sanctioned and removed from the game, “It said.

“At the same time, the entire global football community needs to do more to prevent such cases from happening and to take appropriate measures to support the victims.”

Football’s world governing body pointed to the work it has done in recent years, notably its FIFA Guardian Program and Toolkit for Member Federations in 2019, as well as the FIFA Guardian Safeguarding in Sport Diploma “to enable member associations to take the right measures”. To train and support implementation “to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable groups and to professionalize the role of the safety officer throughout football.”

Through a series of workshops and webinars aimed at youth, Guardians Safeguarding in Sports Diploma hopes to train and support security officers in FIFA’s 211 member associations around the world.

FIFA’s statement comes after it was announced that an investigation had been launched following allegations of sexual abuse by former Venezuelan women’s football coach Kenneth Jesremeta, the country’s Attorney-General Tarek William Saab announced earlier in October.

Football star Deina Castellanos and 23 other players published a letter accusing their former coach Zecermeta of psychological and sexual abuse and harassment over sexual orientation.

Granthshala could not reach Zeremeta for comment and it is not yet clear whether it has received legal representation.

Panama Women's Olympic football head coach Zecermeta on the edge of the game against Costa Rica.

Zeremetta served as the head coach of the under-17 and under-20 women’s national teams until 2017. He is one of Venezuela’s most successful football coaches of all time, with teams having won the South American Under-17 Football Championship twice, in 2013 and 2016.

Granthshala has contacted Saab and the Venezuelan Football Federation following the announcement but has yet to receive a response.

Also in October, Football Australia established a free forum to enable “current and former football players and employees to bring forward concerns regarding alleged abuse, harassment or bullying in relation to Football Australia’s national teams and the A-League.” Announced the formation of a grievance management process.”

Former Australia striker Lisa De Vanna has revealed that she has been the victim of sexual harassment, harassment and bullying during her career.

The 36-year-old first made the allegations in response to a post by Megan Rapinoe on twitter, in which the US international commented on allegations of abuse against former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.

De Vanna responded that she has seen women in sports abuse young female players and organizations protecting abusers.

and in An interview with The Daily TelegraphIn , De Vanna outlined some of his personal experiences in football, as well as his hopes for change in the future.

“There needs to be results,” De Vanna said. “There needs to be accountability. I’ve seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years – from men and women – and coming girls need to be brave, and through that girls need to be brave too and know That they are not alone.”

When contacted by Granthshala about De Vanna’s comments, Football Australia said It takes a “zero-tolerance approach” to such conduct, and this is what De Vanna met.
De Vanna during the USA vs Australia game at Investors Group Field.

It also said that since the review in 2019, Football Australia has taken a number of measures to prevent and prevent such incidents.

“Key initiatives to date include the deployment of specialist resources in and around our women’s national teams, including new senior and assistant coaches, high performance and technical directors, and a national wellbeing manager.

“In addition, we have introduced equitable pay reform, a multi-channel feedback process, and a revised member protection framework and whistleblower policy.”

De Vanna’s former opposition player, Smith, said the allegations of abuse “go against the core values ​​of football.”

The former New Zealand international said, “For someone like me, football was a place where not only was it safe, but I had the freedom to really express it and learn and have positive growth experiences.”

“I’ve learned a lot through football, that’s why I’ve been in football to give it back… The reason I’m in football is because it has the potential and the power to change a lot for good.” .

“It can change cultures, it can change stereotypes, it can push subjects to women in areas of the world where it could take hundreds more years, while you watch them play football and you see that How people start looking at them in a different way. And they feel that their confidence grows and they realize how much they can achieve despite what they’ve been told for so many years. And you see that things change immediately.

“But then to see the other side of it, the darker side of it is shocking and scary and frightening. And I don’t think there’s anything worse than going into an environment where you think it has to be one of the safest. Funny. , the most open space you could ever go to and vice versa.”

Smith is challenged by Cameroonian midfielder Francois Bella during the London 2012 Olympics.

an increasing number

American women’s football has been hit by allegations that surfaced after former National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) coach Riley was fired by North Carolina Courage.

An investigative report from The Athletic, citing players on record, alleged that for years, Riley used his influence and power to sexually harass players and, in one incident, had a player have sex with her. forced to make.

Riley denied the allegations in The Athletic Report. Granthshala could not reach Riley for comment.

Former NWSL player Mana Shimo Guilty Riley being a “hunter” who “sexually harassed” her, while another former player, Sinead Farrelly, said that Riley “seems into every part” of his livelihood.

When NWSL action resumed, players from several games paused in the sixth minute—to highlight the six years it took to hear Shim, Farrelly, and others—connecting arms in a show of solidarity, in the center circle. joined together.

Farrelly told Granthshala that watching those players show Unity’s performance left him in awe.

Portland Thorns and Houston Dash players, along with referees, gather in midfield in a show of solidarity.

“To see them stand in unity and solidarity, I hope it is clear that people know that players are leagues. And they need to be protected.

“They are the most important part of it and to see the power of what they did last night, to stand in unity with us and with each other, hand in hand, it was very powerful and I hope people felt it.”

In recent years, FIFA has banned key football officials in Haiti and Afghanistan.

In November last year, the president of the Haitian Football Federation (FHF), Yves Jean-Bart was banned He was suspended from football for life by FIFA after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

FIFA’s ethics committee claims that Jean-Bart “abused her position in violation of the FIFA Code of Conduct and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors.”

Jean-Bart’s spokesman Ivan Niermann said his client would appeal the decision, saying in a statement: “The FIFA decision is a mockery of justice and is intended to avoid further controversy and bad press after a series of high-profile scandals.” A purely political move.”

Also last year, Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) justified Life ban given by FIFA keramuddin karimi, a former president of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), after an investigation into allegations that male officials sexually and physically abused players on the women’s national team.
Danish sportswear brand Hummel due to allegations Cancelled Its sponsorship is related to the AFF and calls for Karim’s resignation.
Karim gestures during a public appearance at Malaspa village near Bajrak in Panjshir province, north of Kabul, on September 4, 2020.

Former Afghanistan player Khaleda Pople told Granthshala in 2018 that the abuse took place during a seven-day training camp in Jordan in late January that year.

Pople, who was forced to flee Afghanistan and now lives in Denmark, was present at the Jordan training camp. She says two male officers abused at least five women in their rooms, who were sent by the AFF to accompany the players.

The CAS rejected Karim’s appeal, upholding his Kareem ban and a fine of $1.07 million (1 million Swiss francs).

Stefano Pozzebon contributed to this report.


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