DAMING REPORT: Private investigation reveals systemic verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct across multiple NWSL teams

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A report and private investigation by Sally Yates and King & Spalding found that abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League was systemic and that verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct occurred across multiple teams, was taken by multiple coaches and affected many players, it was announced on Monday afternoon.

The teams, the NWSL and US Soccer have not only repeatedly failed to respond appropriately when faced with player reports and evidence of abuse, they have also failed to institute measures. basis for preventing and remedying them, according to the survey.

“As a result, abusive coaches moved from team to team, with positive references from teams that masked the misconduct. Those in the NWSL and USSF able to correct the record remained silent. King & Spalding said in a press release, and no one in the teams, the NWSL or the USSF demanded better of the coaches.

A year ago today, American Soccer hired Yates and King & Spalding to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League. The 172-page investigation report details the findings of the investigation and makes recommendations for the future. It also released material from two previous investigations into coaching misconduct – one by the Portland Thorns and the other by US Soccer.

“The United States Soccer Federation has taken an important step in undertaking this independent investigation and delivering on its promise of transparency by publicly releasing the report,” Yates said in a statement. “Our investigation revealed that abuse in the NWSL is not just about one team, coach or player. It is not even just about the league. Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper football culture. that normalizes verbally abusive training and blurs the lines between coaches and players. The players who have come forward to tell their stories have shown great courage. Now is the time that the institutions that let them down in the past listen to the actors and adopt the meaningful reforms that the actors deserve.

Calling the investigation into past abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer “heartbreaking and deeply disturbing”, US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said the organization would respond to the report’s recommendations.

This will include the launch of a player-focused Participant Safety Takeforce that will engage leaders at all levels of football to ensure “a safe and respectful playing environment for all athletes,” US Soccer said in a press release.

“The findings of this investigation are heartbreaking and deeply disturbing,” Cone said in a statement. “The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playground, training center or workplace. As the national governing body of our sport, US Soccer is fully committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that all players – at all levels – have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete. . We are taking the immediate action we can today and will convene football leaders at all levels across the country to collaborate on the recommendations so that we can create meaningful and lasting change across the entire football ecosystem.

When Yates and his team were shortlisted, US Soccer pledged to transparently share the results of the investigation once it was completed. After receiving a detailed report from King & Spalding at the conclusion of the investigation, the US Soccer Board of Directors voted to release the report in its entirety, with appropriate measures taken to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of victims.

“I am grateful to Sally Yates and her team for their dedicated work, and to everyone who participated openly and honestly in the investigation, especially the players who bravely came forward publicly to share their experiences and started the process. fact-finding and drive needed and immediate change,” Cone said in a statement. “US Soccer and the entire football community must do better, and I am confident that we can use this report and its recommendations as a watershed moment for every organization tasked with keeping players safe. We have important work to do. to do and we are committed to doing this work and leading change across the football community.

US Soccer announced that it will:

* Establish a new Office of Participant Safety to oversee US Soccer’s conduct policies and reporting mechanisms

* Publish football records from SafeSport’s centralized disciplinary database to publicly identify individuals in our sport who have been disciplined, suspended or banned

* Mandate a uniform minimum standard for background checks of all US Soccer members at all levels of the game, including youth soccer, to comply with USOPC standards.

A copy of the report, recommendations and appendices is available here.

The independent investigation’s confidential reporting line will remain available at [email protected] and 1-877-KS-INFO-9 (1-877-574-6369).

King & Spalding’s all-female investigative team included Laura Harris, TaCara Harris, Amy Hitchcock, Jamie Lang, Jeanne Fugate, Marisa Maleck, Jennifer Guest, Emily Chen, Heather Saul, Ashley Cordero, Erin Sullivan, Lauren Devendorf and Micha Nandaraj Gallo. .

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