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Ireland supports World Cup coach Vera Pauw despite NWSL fallout

(Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland’s national soccer association expressed its support for Vera Pauw in the face of abuse allegations against its women’s national team coach.

The Football Association of Ireland “continues to support Vera and her team as they prepare for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023,” reads the FAI statement released Thursday.

The NWSL and NWSLPA on Wednesday released the findings of their year-long joint investigation into “widespread misconduct” in the league.

Pauw is cited in the report for weight-shaming players and “attempt[ing] to exert excessive control over their eating habits” during her tenure as Houston Dash coach in 2018. Players said she wanted to exert control over “every aspect” of their lives.

The 59-year-old coach, who has led the Ireland WNT since 2019, denied the report’s findings.

“I want to refute every allegation made against me from my time at Houston Dash,” she said in a statement released Friday. “Player welfare has always been of the utmost importance to me throughout my career.”

Pauw goes on to say that nutrition is an important part of professional soccer, and that she told players to look after their health, and seek the advice of “medical experts” when it came to their nutrition.

“To suggest I would body shame any human being, footballer or not, is an insult to my personal values and to my behaviour as coach and I cannot allow this claim to go unchallenged,” the statement continued.

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill was set to meet with Pauw on Friday, the Irish Independent reported, but he emphasized his support for the coach, who this year has led the Ireland WNT to its first World Cup berth.