Investigation reveals 'systemic abuse' in US women's professional soccer

An independent investigation has found "systemic abuse and misconduct" within women's professional soccer in the United States.

U.S. Soccer on Monday released the findings of the year-long investigation, led by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, after over 200 interviews had taken place.

The report stated that over the nearly 10-year history of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), "numerous coaches have verbally or emotionally abused players".

It also found that "several are alleged to have committed serious sexual misconduct during and/or before their time in the League".

The report stated: "Our investigation has revealed a league in which abuse and misconduct – verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct – had become systemic, spanning multiple teams, coaches, and victims.

"Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women's soccer, beginning in youth leagues, that normalises verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players."

It also concluded: "Teams, the League, and the [U.S. Soccer] Federation not only repeatedly failed to respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse, they also failed to institute basic measures to prevent and address it, even as some leaders privately acknowledged the need for workplace protections."

U.S. Soccer has vowed to "act to thoroughly address the report's recommendations".

Among the action the governing body will take in response to the report is to launch a new player-driven participant safety taskforce, which will convene leaders at all levels of the sport to "ensure a safe and respectful playing environment for all athletes".

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said: "As a former player, as a coach, as the president of soccer's national governing body, I am heartbroken by the contents of the report, which make clear that systemic changes are needed at every level of our game.

"The abuse described in the report is entirely inexcusable and has no place in soccer, on or off the field. Along with everyone at U.S. Soccer, I am squarely focused on the changes we will make to address the report’s findings and make soccer safer for everyone. It will take all of U.S. Soccer's membership working together to create the kind of change needed to ensure our athletes are safe.

"The gravity of these issues requires us to not simply 'turn the page'. We can and must use this moment as a forcing function for forward progress. Since I became president of U.S. Soccer in 2020, my priority above all else has been to ensure that athletes across the country have a safe and respectful place to play, work, learn, grow and compete."