Vera Pauw: Ireland players feared for their bodies in abandoned Colombia clash

By Sports Desk July 15, 2023

Republic of Ireland coach Vera Pauw admits her players “feared for their bodies” in their abandoned Women’s World Cup warm-up match against Colombia on Friday.

Midfielder Denise O’Sullivan was taken to hospital with a shin injury and the game was halted after just 20 minutes following a number of rough challenges, with the Football Association of Ireland describing it as “overly physical”.

Scans have revealed the North Carolina Courage captain has not sustained any fractures but the extent of a soft tissue injury has still to be discovered.

“It was something I had never experienced before in my 47 years being involved in football, not as a player, not as a coach,” Pauw told Sky Sports.

“It started lively, a good game, normal, and then the atmosphere built up to becoming over-physical.

“Then there came a huge challenge on Denise, a challenge not within the rules of the game and she was in awful pain.

“I went to the coach of Colombia and I said: ‘I need help from you, we need to calm this down. We all want to go to the World Cup’.

“The players were extremely upset and had fear for themselves. We are not a team who fear tackles or challenges.

“I took them away to calm things down, brought them to the bench. We discussed it and there was contact with the president and the CEO of the FAI.

“Collectively we knew it would not come right any more and if it went on we would put our players into a potentially-serious situation.

“We had a calm discussion with the ref and they called off the game.”

Ireland open their World Cup campaign against Australia and Pauw remains optimistic O’Sullivan will be fit.

“We have hopes she can make the game but we need to see, the first 48 hours are very important in these soft tissue injuries,” she added.

The Colombian Football Federation (FCF) released a statement which said, while the training of its teams was “framed within the rules of the game, healthy competition and fair play”, it respected Ireland’s decision.

“The Colombian Football Federation informs that the friendly match… between the Colombia women’s national team and Ireland was suspended because the Irish national team preferred not to continue playing when 23 minutes of the first half had elapsed,” said the statement from the FCF, which has been contacted for further comment.

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