Major new joint investigation into women's soccer in Ireland to be revealed this Sunday

Garda probe underway following allegations against FAI coaches

This coming Sunday, 7th July, RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent will reveal the details of a joint investigation spanning two years, into widespread allegations of inappropriate behaviour made by women against Irish male soccer coaches.

The groundbreaking investigation by journalists Marie Crowe and Mark Tighe will be covered in a feature length TV documentary (the Girls in Green) and extensive written articles this Sunday, has in the last number of weeks led to Gardaí opening an investigation into a former senior football coach following allegations from female footballers that he made unwanted sexual advances on players. A separate complaint has also been made about a second senior coach.

Over two years in the making, the highly anticipated joint investigation features candid testimony from multiple former female players, former coaches and officials. Some of those who spoke to the RTÉ Investigates / Sunday Independent joint investigation have never told anyone about their experiences until now.

Many of those who experienced unwanted sexual advances were shocked to discover that former teammates had shared similar experiences.

“I thought I was the only one,” a significant number of former players have told RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent.

In one case a player said she was never selected again after she fled from her manager’s hotel room after he attempted to kiss her. Another player outlined how she believed she was “exiled” by a coach from their team after she said she saw him behaving inappropriately with players.

In a change to scheduled programmes, RTÉ Investigates: Girls in Green will be broadcast this Sunday night in peak time on RTÉ One at 9.30pm, and available to stream worldwide on the RTÉ Player.

Extensive feature articles detailing the investigation will be published this weekend in the Sunday Independent, and

Women’s soccer seems to keep making headlines for all the wrong reasons. World Cup winners Spain had their finest hour mired in controversy, American soccer was turned upside down when a top coach was banned for life, and this year Brazil’s former head coach resigned after players complained against sexual harassment.

Ex-Irish internationals told the RTÉ Investigates / Sunday Independent joint investigation they weren’t surprised by revelations of misogyny and abuse abroad. They hinted at the same thing happening at home but had little faith that well-hidden secrets would ever see the light of day.

Journalist Mark Tighe of the Sunday Independent has written extensively about the FAI. RTÉ Sport presenter and reporter Marie Crowe has spent 15 years in sports journalism including covering the women's national soccer team. Both journalists were independently working on the same story in 2022 and then came together to research it in greater detail.  They have spoken to a significant number of former female players for this investigation.

Made by the award-winning RTÉ Investigations Unit, RTÉ Investigates: Girls in Green sees RTÉ Sport journalist Marie Crowe and Mark Tighe of the Sunday Independent join with RTÉ Investigates Producer/Director Frank Shouldice to reveal the backroom story of women's soccer in Ireland.

RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent joint investigation looks at whether the absence of proper safeguards actually promoted an unhealthy dynamic between coaches and players and examines what measures the FAI took to ensure a secure environment for talented young girls who wanted to play soccer.

The FAI recently announced it was introducing a new anonymous reporting mechanism to allow players and others to flag concerns and report inappropriate behaviour to Raiseaconcern, an independent complaint handling firm.

The Play It Right campaign - which is to be rolled out to clubs across the country - to promote good behaviour and promote a confidential independent helpline and website for anyone who wants to report a serious concern anonymously.

Four days before the announcement, reporters from RTÉ Investigates and the Sunday Independent contacted the FAI seeking an official response to concerns raised by the women about their treatment by coaches in the 1990s.

An FAI spokesperson said: “The Association was shocked and appalled to learn of disturbing allegations of abuse brought forward by women involved in Irish football in the 1990s.”

The FAI “acknowledges the enormous courage of the women in coming forward and making their concerns known and would encourage anyone involved in Irish football to report any concern that may arise.”

Watch: RTÉ Investigates: Girls in Green, Sunday 9.30pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player

Read: Sunday Independent and Irish Independent online from 6.00am Sunday morning.

* The FAI said that anyone that has experienced any form of abuse or harm within Irish football, can contact independent and confidential service it has set up with Raiseaconcern on 01 6107929 or 086 0299929, or email

Statement by Minister Catherine Martin

The allegations of historical abuse made by women involved in football in the 1990s are very shocking.

I have been assured that the Football Association of Ireland, as the National Governing Body for the sport, is engaging and co-operating with the live Garda investigation into these allegations, with an athlete-centred approach.

The safeguarding of children and young adults in sport is absolute and there should be zero tolerance for any actions that endanger their welfare.

I commend the bravery of the women who have stepped forward.

As Minister for Sport, I fundamentally believe that sport must be a safe place for children of all ages.

This matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation by An Garda Síochána. As such it would not be appropriate for me as Minister for Sport to comment any further at this time