U.S. Soccer releases report detailing ‘systemic’ abuse in women’s soccer

U.S. Soccer has released the full independent investigation by Sally Q. Yates into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in the NWSL and women’s professional soccer.

The reports found that verbal and sexual misconduct exist at the highest levels of women’s soccer in the United States in a pervasive and systemic manner. The document includes new, specific incidents involving several former coaches in the NWSL to prove the overarching conclusion. 

Former United States Attorney General Yates was originally brought in by the soccer federation in October 2021 to conduct an independent investigation following a series of allegations of abuse and sexual midsconduct against multiple individuals in women’s football. The highly detailed report is fully available a year later. 

“Our investigation has revealed a league in which abuse and misconduct—verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct—had become systemic, spanning multiple teams, coaches, and victims,” Yates said in her report.

“Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, beginning in youth leagues, that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players. The verbal and emotional abuse players describe in the NWSL is not merely ‘tough’ coaching.”

The 173-page report also illustrates how individuals chose to protect themselves instead of addressing the continued abuse within the game.  

Yates notes the NWSL and U.S. Soccer “appear to have prioritized concerns of legal exposure to litigation by coaches …. over player safety and well-being.”

“[T]hey also failed to institute basic measures to prevent and address it, even as some leaders privately acknowledged the need for workplace protections. As a result, abusive coaches moved from team to team, laundered by press releases thanking them for their service.”

Following the release of the investigation’s finings, U.S. Soccer published it’s own recommendations:

“This investigation’s findings are heartbreaking and deeply troubling,” said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone in a statement. “The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, in any training facility or workplace.”

U.S. Soccer’s offered three recommendations:

“The Federation will immediately 1) establish a new national Office of Participant Safety, 2) publish soccer records from SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database, and 3) mandate a uniform minimum standard for background checks for all U.S. Soccer members,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement.

The full Yates report can be read HERE.

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