Sexual abuse, emotional abuse was systemic in NWSL, report says

Sexual abuse, emotional abuse was systemic in NWSL, report says

Editor’s note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be painful for some readers.

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An independent investigation into the scandals that arose in the National Women’s Soccer League last season found that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, with many teams, according to a report released Monday. The coaches and players were impressed.

“Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in the deep culture of women’s soccer, starting in the youth leagues, which normalizes verbal abuse and blurs the lines between coaches and players,” former U.S. Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates wrote the investigation in her report

U.S. Soccer has launched an investigation by Yates and law firm King & Spaulding after former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, including former coach Paul Reilly, faced harassment and sexual assault allegations a decade ago. Their account was published by The Athletic in September 2021.

Riley, who denied the allegations, was quickly fired as head coach of the North Carolina Courage, and NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird was fired.

But it was clear that the problems were widespread. Five of the 10 head coaches in the NWSL last season were either fired or fired because of allegations of misconduct.

“The verbal and emotional abuse of players in the NWSL is not just ‘tough’ coaching. And the players affected are no less violets. They are some of the best players in the world,” Yates wrote. Yeats wrote.

More than 200 people were interviewed by investigators. About two dozen organizations and individuals submitted documents. U.S. Soccer also provided documents and the company reviewed 89,000 that were deemed necessary.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlo-Kun called the findings “heartbreaking and deeply disturbing.”

“The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, training ground or workplace,” she said in a statement. “As the national governing body for our sport, USA Soccer is fully committed to doing everything possible to ensure that all players — at every level — have a safe and “There is respect.”

The report made several recommendations to prioritize player health and safety. Among them is the requirement that teams properly report coach misconduct to the league and the Football Federation to ensure that coaches are not allowed to move between teams. It also calls for meaningful evaluations of coaches and investigations when allegations of abuse are made.

The investigation focused on three former coaches, Riley, Racing Louisville’s Christy Holley and Rory Deams of the Chicago Red Stars.

It recalls an April 2021 match between Holley and Erin Simon, a player currently playing in Europe. Holly invited her to watch game film with him and allegedly told her that for every pass she disrupted, he would touch her. Simon told investigators that Holly “put his hands down her pants and up her shirt.”

Simon, now with Leicester City, said many athletes suffer in silence because they fear they won’t be heard.

“I know because I felt it,” the 28-year-old said in a statement. “Through the most difficult days, only my faith has kept me going and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that no other player has to experience what I did. This report is our It allows voices to finally be heard and is the first step towards the respectful workplace we all deserve.”

Holley was terminated for cause but Racing Louisville declined to publicly state the reason. The Yates report noted that Racing did not provide details about Holley’s employment to investigators, citing mutual nondisclosure and nondisclosure clauses.

Ferrelli said the harassment she experienced began in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer League. Riley was her trainer.

She told The Athletic that the abuse by Riley continued when she was with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2014 and 2015. Shim, a former Thorns player, also said he experienced bullying. No women currently play in the NWSL.

The Thorns said they investigated Riley in 2015 while he was with the team and reported the findings to the league. They did not renew his contract, but did not disclose the reasons.

The report said the Thorns were not forthcoming with specific information, and tried to prevent investigators from using the team’s 2015 report.

“The Portland Thorns interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specific legal arguments to prevent our use of relevant documents,” Yates wrote.

Riley went to coach the Western New York Flash, which later moved to North Carolina and was renamed.

When the scandal broke last year, former Thorns forward Alex Morgan posted on social media: “The league has been informed of these allegations multiple times and has refused to investigate the allegations, the league should have a process. Accept responsibility for failing to protect its players from this abuse.

Morgan also said Shim and Farrelly asked the NWSL for a new investigation into Riley’s conduct early last year, but was denied.

U.S. Soccer said its board of directors and leadership team will begin implementing the report’s recommendations immediately.

“U.S. Soccer and the entire soccer community must do better, and I believe we can use this report and its recommendations as an important step forward for any organization that needs to ensure player safety,” Parlo-Kun said. “We have a job to do. We are committed to doing it, and we are committed to doing it and leading change throughout the football community.”

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