(Bloomberg) -- An extensive new report details sexual misconduct and abuse by some top coaches in US women’s soccer and a pattern of league and team leadership failing to protect players.
The report, compiled by former US Attorney General Sally Yates and the law firm King & Spalding, was released Monday by the US Soccer Federation. Investigators conducted more than 200 interviews and reviewed more than 89,000 documents to paint a complete picture of the verbal, emotional and sometimes physical or sexual abuse levied against National Women’s Soccer League players. It names coaches Christy Holly, Paul Riley and Rory Dames as mistreating players and further implicates NWSL and USSF for failing to act to address the allegations.
“As a result, abusive coaches moved from team to team, laundered by press releases thanking them for their service, and positive references from teams that minimized or even concealed misconduct,” the report said. “Those at the NWSL and USSF in a position to correct the record stayed silent. And no one at the teams, the League, or the Federation demanded better of coaches.”
The NWSL oversees 12 professional women's soccer teams in the US. Teams named in the report include the North Carolina Courage, Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars and Racing Louisville. None of the teams immediately returned requests for comment.
Riley previously denied sexual-misconduct allegations made against him by players last year in The Athletic; the Courage fired him in October, citing “very serious allegations of misconduct.” Holly was fired by Louisville last September “for cause,” but the club didn’t provide further information. Dames resigned in November ahead of a Washington Post report in which players accused him of misconduct; a follow-up report detailed allegations of inappropriate behavior toward youth soccer players dating back to 1998.
Monday’s report is the latest to detail abuse in women’s sports. In December, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee reached a settlement with gymnasts who were subjected to abuse by former doctor Larry Nassar. A cohort of more than 90 athletes, including Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, are now seeking $1 billion from the Federal Bureau of Investigations for failing to intervene despite knowing about Nassar’s predation.
Cindy Parlow Cone, president of US Soccer and a former professional soccer player, called the Yates report “heartbreaking and deeply troubling” and said USSF leadership will take immediate action to implement changes. “We have significant work to do, and we’re committed to doing that work and leading change across the entire soccer community.”
The report recommends that individual teams and the NWSL take action, including abolishing non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements that may keep players and others silent about misconduct, as well as amending how they investigate allegations of abuse.
The NWSL said in a statement that its joint investigation with the league's player association was ongoing, and that it had asked that investigative team to review the US Soccer report as well.
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