USWNT players ‘horrified, exhausted and really angry’ after NWSL abuse report - The Guardian

USWNT players ‘horrified, exhausted and really angry’ after NWSL abuse report - The Guardian

USWNT players ‘horrified, exhausted and really angry’ after NWSL abuse report - The Guardian
Oct 05, 2022 1 min, 31 secs

The United States captain, Becky Sauerbrunn, has demanded root and branch reform of elite domestic soccer in North America after an independent investigation found that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct had become systemic throughout the National Women’s Soccer League.

“It’s time for those in authority to start being accountable and make players in this league feel safe,” said the 37-year-old Portland Thorns defender after she and her US teammates arrived in London to prepare for Friday’s high-profile friendly against England at Wembley.

The investigation, commissioned by the US Soccer Federation and conducted by former US deputy attorney general Sally Yates, was launched in the wake of allegations made last year against for the former Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

Yates and her team spoke to about 200 players in the North American top tier and soon discovered that the problem extended far beyond the allegations made not merely against Riley but a handful of other leading coaches.

Investigators found that such problems were exacerbated by leading club and league officials persistently failing to heed warnings and take complaints from players and their parents seriously.

So much so that, in the course of an emotional press conference, Vlatko Andonovski, the US’s Macedonian-born manager, made it clear that he will understand should any of his players decide they are not in the right frame of mind to face England on Friday.

“I hope protocols are brought in that mean parents and players feel comfortable reporting abuse and that coaches receive training as to what is and isn’t out of bounds,” she said.

In reply to a an inquiry as to whether she felt safe at the Portland Thorns, Sauerbrunn, perhaps tellingly, responded: “It doesn’t matter if I feel safe, everyone’s not 100% safe and that’s not good enough.”

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