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The abuse in the women’s professional soccer league was systemic, the report said.state news

An independent investigation into a scandal in the National Women’s Soccer League last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct systematically perpetrated in the sport, according to a report released Monday, with multiple teams, coaches , was found to affect the players.

“Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in the deeper culture of women’s football, beginning in the youth leagues, normalizing abusive verbal coaching and blurring the lines between coaches and players,” said former US Attorney General Sally Q. Yeats said. wrote in the research report.

U.S. Soccer asks Yates and law firm King & Spaulding to investigate After former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Sim filed allegations of harassment and sexual coercion dating back a decade that involved former coach Paul Riley. Their account was made public by The Athletic in September 2021.

Riley, who denied the allegations, was quickly fired as head coach at North Carolina College.When NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird has resigned.

But it was clear that the problem was widespread. Five of his ten head coaches in his NWSL last season were either fired or resigned amid allegations of misconduct.

“The verbal and emotional abuse players describe at NWSL is more than just ‘hard’ coaching. And the athletes affected aren’t shrinking violets. They’re among the best athletes in the world,” Yates wrote.

Over 200 people were interviewed by investigators. About 20 organizations and individuals contributed documents. US Soccer also provided the documents, and the company investigated 89,000 of him that appeared to be relevant.

US soccer president Cindy Parlow Cohn called the findings “heartbreaking and very disturbing”.

“The abuse described is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any stadium, training facility or workplace,” she said in a statement. To ensure that all players at all levels have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete. ”

The report made a number of recommendations for prioritizing player health and safety. Among them is the requirement that teams accurately disclose coach misconduct to leagues and football federations so that coaches are not allowed to move between teams. , also requires timely investigations into allegations of abuse.

The NWSL said it was considering the report. The league and the NWSL Players Association are also investigating.

“We are aware of the anxiety and emotional strain these pending investigations have caused and the trauma that many, including our players and staff, have to relive,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. , “We continue to salute their courage in coming forward to share their stories and influence all the changes needed to keep the league moving forward. We know we must learn from the painful lessons of our past and take responsibility if we are to move the league into a better future.”

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

He talks about meeting Holly in April 2021 with Erin Simon, who is currently playing in Europe. Holly allegedly invited her to watch a movie of the game with her and told her that every time he messed up her path, he was going to touch her. Simon told investigators that Holly had her “hands tucked under her pants and up over her shirt.”

Simon, who now plays for Leicester City, said too many athletes suffer in silence for fear that their voices will not be heard.

In a statement, the 28-year-old said, “I used to feel that way, so I know. Other players need to go through what I did. It’s the first step in enabling our voices to be heard and achieving the respected workplace we all deserve.

Holly was dismissed for valid reasons, but Racing Louisville declined to publicly state the reasons. He cited mutual confidentiality and non-defamation clauses.

Farrelly said the harassment she experienced began in 2011 when she was a player for the Philadelphia Independence of the women’s professional soccer league.

She told The Athletic that Riley’s abuse continued when she was with the Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015. Shim, a former Thorns player, was also harassed, she said.Neither woman currently plays in the NWSL.

Thornes said Riley investigated him in 2015 while he was with the team and reported the results to the league.They did not renew his contract but did not disclose why.

According to the report, Soanes did not provide specific information and is trying to prevent investigators from using the team’s 2015 report.

“Portland Thorns has raised questionable legal arguments in an attempt to block our access to relevant witnesses and prevent us from using relevant documents.

Riley later moved to North Carolina and continued to coach the renamed Western New York Flash.

When the scandal broke last year, former Thorns forward Alex Morgan posted on social media: Leagues must be held accountable for their failure to protect players from this abuse. ”

Morgan also said Sim and Farrelly had asked the NWSL for a new investigation into Riley’s behavior earlier last year, but had been denied.

The Women’s National Players Association has issued a statement. The USWNTPA applauds the bravery of survivors, current and former players who have spoken out against the excessively normalized abuses in the NSWL and women’s football generally. At the same time, USWNTPA is dismayed that some of her NWSL clubs and his USSF staff have sabotaged the investigation. Those who have not done so must immediately cooperate fully with her ongoing NWSL/NWSLPA investigation. ”

US Soccer said its board and leadership team will begin implementing the report’s recommendations immediately.

“U.S. soccer and the soccer community as a whole must do better,” said Parlow Cohn. We believe it can be used as an important turning point for the organization.” We are committed to doing the job and making a difference throughout the football community. ”

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