Kerr and Matildas defend team culture

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Captain Sam Kerr has described the Matildas as a "safe haven" as the team issued a statement defending their culture after claims of sexual abuse and harrassment from women's soccer great Lisa De Vanna.

The players released a statement on Monday as Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia launched investigations into the allegations.

De Vanna, a former Matildas striker, alleges she suffered same-sex sexual harassment, abuse and bullying during her decorated 150-game international career between 2001 and 2019.

Her former teammate and W-League stalwart Rhali Dobson also alleges she was a target of sexual harassment in her career.

The Matildas issued a joint statement acknowledging the seriousness of De Vanna's allegations.

"We empathise with her for not feeling like she could come forth earlier," the statement read.

"We will work with Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner."

Kerr was one of 15 players to include personal comments defending the culture of the national side.

"I have been a part of this team for 12 amazing years, from 15 years old to now," the captain said.

"Throughout my career the Matildas have been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today."

Other players included in the statement include vice-captain Steph Catley, veteran Emily van Egmond and teenager Mary Fowler.

The women said they had spoken at length about the allegations and were "hurt" by what had occurred, and reassured fans they had a strong professional, inclusive and supportive culture.

They said they were disappointed the group had been accused of not accepting diversity within its ranks.

"As a group, we represent the values reflective of Australia and that includes acceptance and inclusivity, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity or culture," the Matildas statement said.

"It was disappointing to observe conversations inferring the group is not accepting of differences, especially given the diversity that exists within our current leadership group on all those fronts, let alone across the broader team."

"We would also like to re-iterate the professional standards that surround the current team today. Women's football has dramatically grown in recent years and so has our professionalism and standards."

The players said they welcomed an independent review into the matter.

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