Report finds ‘systemic’ abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League
A player was brought in by a coach to watch the game tape, but she was instead shown porn. Another was infamous at the highest levels of women’s soccer for both reprimanding and interrogating his players about their sexual lives.
An elite squad fired a third coach after discovering that he had forced several players into sexual relationships. However, despite having evidence of his actions from an internal probe, the original team did nothing when he was hired by a competitor company only a few months later. Instead, it wished him luck in his new role in front of everyone.
These and other information are contained in a much-anticipated report on abuse in women’s soccer that exposed sexual misconduct, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse by coaches in the National Women’s Soccer League and provided cautions that girls also experience abuse in youth soccer.
The study was released on Monday, a year after players who were horrified by what they saw to be an abusive culture in their sport demanded reforms by walking off the field. As well as owners, executives, and coaches at all levels, it was discovered that officials of the NWSL and the United States Soccer Federation, the nation’s soccer regulatory body, had ignored many, consistent accusations of coach abuse for years.
According to the research, everyone was more worried about being sued by coaches or about the precarious financial state of women’s professional soccer than they were about the wellbeing of the players.
US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone called the investigation’s findings “heartbreaking and deeply troubling.”
The NWSL said it would immediately review the findings.
“We greatly appreciate our players, staff and stakeholders’ cooperation with both investigations, especially during the ongoing season,” the league said in a statement.
“We recognise the anxiety and mental strain that these pending investigations have caused and the trauma that many – including players and staff – are having to relive.
“We continue to admire their courage in coming forward to share their stories and influence all the changes necessary to keep moving our league forward.”