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Systemic Abuse Found in U.S. Women Soccer

Systemic Abuse
Courtesy of ||read|| (Flickr CC0)

An investigation done independently that investigated the big scandals’ in the National Women’s Soccer League previous season found that sexual misconduct, as well as emotional abuse, were systemic in women’s soccer, affecting multiple teams, players, and coaches, according to a report released on Monday.

“Abuse in the NWSL is more prevalent in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, starting in youth leagues, that doesn’t really restrict verbally abusive coaching and confuses boundaries between players and coaches,” said former  U.S. Attorney, General Sally Q. Yates in her report of the investigation.

U.S. soccer ordered the law firm King & Spaulding to the investigation after former players of the NWSL Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly came out with allegations of sexual coercion and harassment taking place ten years previously having to do with the former coach, Paul Riley. Their report was posted by The Athletic in September of 2021.

The coach in question, Riley, who denied the said allegations against him, was fired shortly as the head coach of the North Carolina Courage, and the  NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.

It was apparent that problems were all over the place. Shockingly, five out of the ten NWSL head coaches last season either stepped down or were fired during the allegations of misconduct.

“The emotional and verbal abuse that players talk about in the NWSL is not entirely ‘tough’ coaching. The players that were affected are not shrinking violets. They are some of the best athletes in the whole world,” Yates wrote.

Systemic Abuse
Courtesy of C Watts (Flickr CC0)

Investigators examined over 200 people, and around two dozen individuals and entities gave documents. Included as well as the U.S soccer gave documents, and the firm reviewed about 89,000 thought to be likely relevant.

Cindy Parlow Cone, the U.S. soccer president called the findings “deeply troubling and heartbreaking.”

“The abuse that was described is not acceptable and has no place on any of the playing field, in any workplace or training facility,” she stated in a statement. “As the national control body for our sport, U.S. Soccer is fully devoted to doing everything that they can to ensure that all players — at all levels — can have access to a respectful and safe place to grow, learn and compete.”

The report made lots of recommendations to make players’ health and safety top priority. Within those recommendations, it is a requirement that teams correctly reveal coach misconduct to the league and the soccer federation to make sure that coaches are not allowed to switch between teams. It also calls for significant examinations of the coaches and timely investigation into allegations.

The investigation includes three of the former coach, Riley, Christy Holly of Racing Louisville, and Rory Dames of the Chicago Red Stars — them being the main focus of the investigation.

It retells an April 2021 experience between Holly and another player, Erin Simon, who plays in Europe now. Holly invited her over to watch a game film and allegedly told her that for every pass that she messed up, he was going to touch her. Simon told investigators Holly “forcefully pushed his hands down her pants and up into her shirt.”

Simon, now with Leicester City, says that too many athletes have to suffer in silence due to the fact that they are afraid they will not be heard.

“I know this because that is exactly how I felt,” the 28-year-old added in a statement. “Through many hard days, my faith alone comforted me and made me kept me going. I want to do everything in my control to make sure that no other player must go through what I did. This report lets our voices to finally be heard and it is the first step toward attaining the respectful workplace we all deserve.”

Written By Lance Santoyo


ESPN: U.S. Soccer investigation into women’s game finds systemic abuse, misconduct

NPR: Abuse in the U.S. women’s pro soccer league was systemic, a report finds

CNN: Investigation finds systemic abuse and misconduct within women’s professional soccer

Featured Image Courtesy of ||read|| Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of C Watts Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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