Devastating report on “systemic abuses” in US women’s soccer

“The verbal and emotional abuse y sexual misconduct they have become systemic and expand by multiple teams, coaches and victims”. That’s him devastating verdict about the state of women’s soccer at the highest level in the United States that was issued this Monday, when the report prepared after a year of a independent investigation leadered by Sally Yateswho came to be in office at the head of the US Department of Justice.

The document puts in black on white complaints that the players had been making for years and that began to be made known in detail in various press investigations a year ago, when the players also organized acts of protestwhich led to game cancellations and the firings or resignations of 10 coaches, as well as then-league commissioner Lisa Baird.

In addition, it points out that “abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s football, starting in the youth leagueswhat normalizes verbally abusive training y blur the boundaries between coaches and players”. And he denounces that he is conditioned to accept these behaviors from an early age and they become normalized. “Many players by the time they reach the professional level do not recognize such behavior as abusive,” he laments.

Abuses, silence and concealment

The report gathers the denunciations of a “pattern of forced sexual intercourse, touchingunwelcome sexual advances and comments of a sexual nature” as well as ruthless training tactics which included “unrelenting and demeaning rants, manipulation that was about power and not about improving performance, and retaliation against whom they tried to denounce”.

made with more than 200 interviewsincluding players, coaches, team owners and staff, and also despite the obstacles and the lack of collaboration of some of the formations and key people, the report leaves in the worst possible place to the league, the federation and the teamswhom he accuses of “not only they did not respond repeatedly when confronted with complaints from players and evidence of abuse” and also points out why “Nor did they institute basic measures to prevent it. and deal with it.”

He claims, for example, that “Abusive coaches went from one team to another washed by press releases thanking them for their services and with references to equipment that minimized or even hid their inappropriate behaviors. Those who were in a position in the league and the federation to correct what was happening remained silent,” writes Yates, who also accuses them of “having prioritized concern about potential exposure to coaching lawsuits than safety and well-being. of the players”.

The report recalls that until last year there was no policy against harassment, that most teams did not have a human resources department or that until last fall there was no line to report anonymously, and that the league and the federation had no one in charge of the safety of the players.

sexual abuse

The document prepared by Yates puts a special focus on three coaches and it also reveals abuses that had not been publicly denounced until now. Christy Holly, for example, he abused when training the Racing Louisville FC sexually of Erin Simonto which once in 2021 he made touching as he did a video review of his mistakes in a match, to which he also sent explicit photos and before which he masturbated again and showed pornography when he had called her home to supposedly watch a soccer video.

Also noted is Paul Riley, who coached the Portland Thorns. Since at least 2014 there have been complaints in anonymous player surveys that Riley is “verbally abusive, sexist and destructive” but neither the federation nor the league acted. Nor was anything done when he punished leaving on the bench to Melena Shim when the player rejected his sexual advances, which she denounced in 2015. The report says that Riley used her position to fforce at least three players into relationships when I worked in another women’s league.

The third listed is Rory Dameswho led the Chicago Red Stars bench and was a youth coach, who is accused of having created “a sexualized environment” which included talking to young players about their sex lives.

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“The research findings are heartbreaking y deeply troubling. The abuse described is inexcusable”, has reacted in a statement Cindy Parlow Cone, president of the federation, that has shown “immediate action” and will bring together soccer leaders of all levels throughout the country to “collaborate in the recommendations” which also includes Yates’ report, to which another one is being prepared by a law firm commissioned by the League and the players’ union, an investigation that has already led to the suspension of a coach, a coach and his assistant .

.Among the recommendations published this Monday are urging teams to make public and explain conduct inappropriate coaches for prevent them from being hired by other teams or require the league to perform the timely investigations of the accusations, forcing league and team employees to participate. Also, it is recommended train players and coaches y establish positions dedicated to security of the players both at team, league and federation level. The league, whose leadership has changed as a result of the scandal, is further recommended to decide whether to undertake disciplinary actions against team owners or managers who remain in their posts and who have been identified by the investigations.

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