EXECUTIVE chairman Shane Mattiske says the Newcastle Jets take the protection of all players "very seriously" after claims by two leading players of sexual abuse and grooming which have rocked the women's game in Australia.
Matildas great Lisa De Vanna and former W-League teammate Rhali Dobson allege they have been the targets of same-sex sexual harrassment and bullying during their careers.
Australia's second-highest goalscorer in senior internationals, De Vanna says the incidents date back to 2001 when she joined the Young Matildas squad.
"I was pulled down from behind and dry-humped by a few of my teammates," De Vanna told News Corp. "Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes.
"In any sporting organisation and in any environment, grooming, preying and unprofessional behaviour makes me sick. As a youngster and a player I didn't know how to address this ... but it is still happening across all levels and it's time to speak up."
Dobson, 29, was a member of the Jets' inaugural side in 2009, made 100 appearances in the W-league and and won two championships with Melbourne City before retiring in March to support her fiancé, Matt, who is battling brain cancer.
She also represented the Young Matildas and Matildas during a 13-year career.
"I know what it was like when I was younger, I didn't want to even have a shower after the game," she told News Corp. "I'd wait until I got back to my room. There were a couple of us young ones that were all in the same boat.
"A lot of it is pushed under the rug. It was a case of grooming when I first came on the scene because I was asked: 'Do I prefer boys or do you prefer girls?' I said I liked boys and remember just looking down at the ground and all the laughter and being told: 'We'll change that soon enough.'
Dobson and De Vanna, who also had a stint with the Jets, did not specify exactly when or by whom they were subjected to the treatment.
Mattiske, who took over Jets when new ownership came in 18 months ago, said the Jets had "policies and processes" to protect players and staff.
"We take the protection of all our players very seriously and have a clear focus on the support of our policies and processes which protect our players and staff," he said.
"The Jets have a strong focus on the support and development of talented female football players and are proud of the fact that we are the only club in the A-Leagues to have a female academy and A-Leagues women's team.
"We are also one of the few teams that has a female head coach of our A-Leagues women's team."
"We must acknowledge that at the centre of this, we have two players who have shown great courage to speak about and to share their personal experiences. Lisa and Rhali, we see you and we hear you," he said.
"Australian football takes a zero tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of the people involved in our game, our community.
"In relation to Lisa De Vanna, a legend of Australian football, we are serious and committed to deepening our understanding and knowledge of the claims being made."
Johnson also confirmed FA had agreed to hand over complete control of an upcoming inquiry into the sordid accusations to Sport Integrity Australia (SIA), the federal government's investigative arm.
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