Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Yates report shows that the NWSL, U.S. Soccer failed players

NWSL Sally Yates Investigation

We are a little over a week from the start of the NWSL playoffs. In any other circumstance this would be an exciting occasion. By October’s end we will crown a new champion in one of the most talented leagues in the world.

However, as many of you are probably aware of those are not the prevailing emotions surrounding the league at the moment. On Monday, Oct. 3, a report was done on an investigation into how previous accusations of abuse were handled in NWSL.

The investigation was conducted by former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates. The names and faces of the scandal have not changed. But the length at which higher ups went to prevent any accountability from happening are shocking.

How could a professional organization be so inept in how to handle what was presented to them? And what can we make a better league for the athletes going forward?

What Happened in the NWSL?

For those who are unaware of how we got to this point. The Yates report examined three major instances of male coaches using there power to abuse their players.

Former Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames, former Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly and former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley. It also delves into how those in the league and those who work for club and country failed their players. From the coaches, the abuse ranges from emotionally damaging comments to sexual coercion.

As players are bravely coming forward with this information, they are being ignored by those above them. The coaches in question are leaving with thanks from the club on social media. Then they are given borderline glowing reviews for their next employers. This sort of neglect can be seen in the actions of owners like Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson, and former NWSL commissioners like Lisa Baird.

What Can the League do Going Forward

There are several suggestions made at the end of the report on how to prevent this from happening again. Committees and positions are already being implemented to streamline abuse notifications. Vetting will be enhanced when searching for coaching candidates.

Quite honestly though, I believe the first step is accountability.

Some of those who were in power at the time still have jobs in the league or in women’s soccer as a whole. Those who were the most silent can not continue to run organizations when they were complicit in the mess that was made. Owners and officials need to be transparent about what happened and take responsibility for their actions.

What Can We Going Forward

For those of you reading you may simply identify as a fan. Whether you go to every match as a season ticket holder or just watch them on TV, we can all do our part to allying ourselves with the brighter future of women’s soccer in America.

We can make sure that we stand up for and with players with any future signs of abuse. Listen to what they have to say and turn our empathy into a vocalized union with players. Most of those who came forward were silenced in fear of losing their job. They were told that the league would fold if they would speak out.

That’s why we need to continue to attend matches, watch every televised match to drive up ratings. Not for the higher ups who will profit from the success either way, but for the players who at minimum sit below the poverty line with their salaries.

As always, when we watch we help the future of the sport. As tragic as it is to read about these events, I find myself hopeful that this is a wake up call for all of us.

This is the greatest sport in the world. And these are the best athletes on the planet. We need to protect them at all costs. Because without them, there is no NWSL.


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