W-League, Young Matildas Abuse Allegations

  • Lisa De Vanna allegations of abuse stem back 20 years
  • Retired A-League Women's player Rhali Dobson alleges being target of "predatory behaviour"
  • Football Australia put out a statement to the allegations 

Lisa De Vanna came forward in an interview published on October 5, 2021 in which she alleged to have been the victim of abuse in football during her Australia career.  She stated that incidents went back twenty years and were due to a "toxic culture of the sport."

In one of the incidents described, which De Vanna alleges occurred as a Young Matilda, she states: "I was pulled down from behind and dry-humped by a few of my teammates. I fought my way off the floor kicking and screaming. They thought it was funny."  

The incident described allegedly took place when De Vanna was seventeen.  Former Matilda Elissia Carnavas, formerly Canham, reportedly corroborating the story.

De Vanna also describes another incident where she alleges to have rebuked unwarranted advances from teammates while in the shower.  Speaking to News Corp in the interview, De Vanna stated allegations of indecent assault, sexual harassment, bullying and grooming at the hands of fellow teammates: 

“Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes."

Former A-League Women's player Rhali Dobson also alleges in the article that "she was the target of predatory behaviour."  Dobson claimed the pressure off the field was greater than what she felt on the field.

The article followed a tweet last Saturday where De Vanna reacted to a tweet by Megan Rapinoe of other allegations of abuse in football being reported overseas:

In the interview De Vanna went on to ask for accountability calling on Football Australia to look into the allegations immediately. 

The allegations prompted an immediate statement from Football Australia:

"Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game. To that end, we encourage anyone to bring forward their concerns through Football Australia’s formal complaints process under the Member Protection Framework, with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

"While it is not appropriate to discuss individual cases, we have met with Lisa De Vanna and heard her grievances, and can confirm that the specific allegations made public were not raised with us in that meeting. We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001. 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.

"Over and above Football Australia’s formal complaints handling protocols, we have also been engaging with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) to develop an additional process for independently investigating allegations of a historical nature as they relate to former players and staff – such as Lisa and Rhali. We will announce the joint initiative with SIA once the details have been finalised."

De Vanna stated that her motivation to come forward were "triggered by a recent incident involving a current professional player within the Football Australia system - a player she said had suffered personally and professionally."

De Vanna is the second most Australian capped, having played 150 times for the Matildas.  She is also its second highest goalscorer, having found the back of the net 47 times in her Matildas career.  De Vanna recently announced that she was walking away from football after having failed to regain a call up with the national team setup.

The former striker most recently played with Melbourne Victory in the 2020-21 A-League Women's season, helping the team to a Championship.  


Matildas icon De Vanna set to retire after Victory confirm her exit

An in depth interview with Lisa De Vanna aired last week where she stated she was walking away from football. The Melbourne Victory now confirm that at this stage there are no plans for her return.

The article which appeared in a number of News Corps publications is reportedly only the first article about what they describe as "More mevelations on the toxic culture of women's football to come."