Women’s National Football League | Report finds systematic abuse

An independent investigation into scandals in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) last season revealed that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct was systemic in the sport, affecting many teams, coaches and players, according to a report released Monday.

Posted at 2:03 pm.
Updated at 2:07 pm.

Ann M Peterson
News agency

“Abuse in the NFL is rooted in a deeper culture of women’s football, beginning with the youth leagues, which normalizes verbal abuse from coaches and blurs the lines between coaches and players,” Acting United States Attorney Sally Q-Yates wrote in her report. in the investigation.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has been tasked with an investigation by Yates and law firm King & Spaulding after former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim made allegations of sexual harassment and coercion dating back a decade involving former coach Paul Riley. Their account was published by The Athletic in September 2021.

Riley, who denied the allegations, was promptly sacked as head coach of the North Carolina Courageous and NFL commissioner Lisa Bird resigned.

But it was clear that the problems were widespread. Five of the 10 coaches in the National Football League last season were fired or resigned after allegations of misconduct.

“The verbal and emotional abuse described by NWSL players is not simply due to ‘difficult’ management. The players affected are some of the best athletes in the world.”

Investigators interviewed more than 200 people. Twenty individuals and entities submitted documents. The USSF has also submitted documents, and the company has reviewed 89,000 of them that are potentially relevant.

See also  Tokyo 2021 | Five events to watch on Tuesdays for Canadians

USSF President Cindy Barlow Kuhn called the results “extremely heartbreaking and disturbing.”

“The assault described is unforgivable and has no place in any stadium, other training facility or workplace,” it said in a statement. As the national governing body of our sport, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is fully committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that all players – at all levels – have a safe and respected place to learn, grow and compete. »

The report made several recommendations to prioritize player health and safety. Among them is a requirement that teams accurately disclose coach misconduct in the league and the NFL to ensure coaches are not allowed to switch between teams. They are also calling for a thorough vetting of trainers and a timely investigation into allegations of abuse.

The investigation focused on three former coaches: Riley and Kristi Holly of Racing Louisville and Rory Dams of the Chicago Red Stars.

She recounts a meeting that took place in April 2021 between Holly and player Erin Simon, who is now playing in Europe. Holly invited her to watch a video of a match with him and allegedly told her that for every pass she missed, he would hit her. Simon told investigators that Holly “forced her hands to lower her pants and shirt.”

Simon, who now plays for Leicester City, said many athletes were suffering in silence because they feared not being heard.

“I know that because that’s how I felt,” she said in a statement. Through several difficult days, it was my faith that kept me going. I want to do everything I can to make sure no other player has to go through the same experience as me. This report finally makes our voices heard and is the first step towards achieving the respected workplace we deserve. »

See also  Despite sports betting, players are not ready to reveal their injuries

Holly was fired for a reason, but Racing refused to state the reason publicly. The Yates report noted that the Louisville team did not provide investigators with details about Holly’s work, citing mutual non-disclosure and non-derogation clauses.

Farrelly said the harassment began in 2011 when she played for Philadelphia Independence in the Women’s Professional Football League. Riley was his coach at the time.

She told The Athletic that Riley’s abuse continued when she played for the Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015. Shem, a former Thorns player, also said she was a victim of harassment. Neither woman currently plays for the NWSL.

The Thorns claimed that they investigated Riley in 2015 while he was with the team and reported the results to the league. They did not renew his contract, but did not announce the reasons.

The report notes that Thorns failed to provide certain information and attempted to prevent investigators from using the team’s 2015 report.

“The Portland Thorns family interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised misleading legal arguments in an effort to prevent our use of the relevant documents,” Yates wrote.

Riley next worked as head coach for Western New York Flash, which later moved to North Carolina and changed its name.

When the scandal erupted last year, former Thorns striker Alex Morgan posted on social media that “the league is aware of these allegations on multiple occasions and has repeatedly refused to investigate them. The league must take responsibility for the process that failed to protect its players from this breach.”

See also  The decisive duel for Challenge Cup between Pride and Courage

Morgan also stated that Shim and Farrelly asked the NWSL to re-investigate Riley’s behavior earlier last year, but were denied.

The USSF said its board and management team will immediately begin implementing the report’s recommendations.

“The NFL and the entire football community must do better and I am confident we can use this report and its recommendations as a watershed moment for every organization tasked with keeping players safe,” Barlow Kuhn said. We have important work to do and we are committed to doing that work and driving change across the entire football community. »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.