As the United States prepared for Friday’s game against England at Wembley Stadium, players attempted to conduct an investigation that found emotional abuse and sexual harassment to be systemic in women’s football.
“We are terrified, heartbroken, frustrated, exhausted and very, very angry,” defender Becky Sauerbrunn said.
Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally K. Yates and law firm King & Spaulding released a report on Monday. after she was hired by US Soccer to investigate allegations of abuse in the Women’s National Football League following a series of scandals last year.
The NWSL and its players’ association are conducting another investigation.
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Five out of 10 NWSL coaches were either fired or resigned last season due to allegations of misconduct. Among them was North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was fired after two former players, Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly, accused him of a decade-old sexual assault and harassment. Riley denied the allegations.
Yates’ report focused on three former coaches, including Riley. The investigation not only found misconduct by all three, but stated that their teams did not fully cooperate.
“I think the players have been demanding change for so long. This is because the people in power and decision making have repeatedly failed to protect us and failed to hold themselves and each other accountable. Who are you really defending and what values are you upholding? You have failed in your administration,” Sauerbrunn said. “And I believe that all US Soccer owners, executives and officials who have repeatedly let players down and failed to protect players who have been hiding behind the law and not fully participating in these investigations should go.”
When Sauerbrunn played in London, her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, announced that owner Merritt Paulson, general manager Gavin Wilkinson and chief executive Mike Golub would immediately recuse themselves from making any decisions related to the Thorns pending the league’s investigation.
Farrelly and Shim played for the Thorns when Riley was manager from 2014 to 2015. At the time, the Thorns conducted an internal investigation into the allegations and decided not to renew Riley’s contract. But the reasons for this decision were not made public, and Riley continued to coach elsewhere in the league.
Sauerbrunn was asked about increasing pressure on Paulson to sell the team. She said she thought the joint NWSL investigation would make its own recommendations on discipline.
“I don’t know if anything will come out in this other report that will make any difference. And so, in the end, if people continue to let the players down and do not comply with anything that they are asked for or do not implement because of these reports, then they need to be removed, ”Sauerbrunn said.
Some of the details of Yeats’ report were alarming.
“I think we all reckon with what was said in the report. Still working on it, in all the ways that we do individually,” said quarterback Alana Cook, who plays for OL Reign. “I think we have such an important event on Friday when we play at Wembley Stadium and it’s overshadowed by this record and it’s overshadowed by the atrocities that have been condoned and tolerated and allowed to continue.”
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The report contains many recommendations for prioritizing the health and safety of players. Among them is the requirement that teams accurately report coach misconduct to the league and football federation so that coaches are not allowed to move from one team to another. He also calls for scrutiny of coaches and a timely investigation into allegations of abuse.
US Soccer also said it would immediately implement player protection programs.
“It was a difficult day, yesterday, a lot of emotions, different emotions. Personally, I am saddened by the report in all that we saw in it, ”said Team USA coach Vlatko Andonovski. “At the same time, I have a lot of empathy for the players and I have a lot of respect for the bravery of the players who spoke out and the players who participated in this report. Football is a game we all love and it should be a safe space.”
NYON, Switzerland. Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 will be “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,” Ukrainian Football Federation President Andriy Pavelko said on Wednesday after his country filed a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.
The leaders of the three football federations have gathered at UEFA headquarters to unveil a campaign they hope will bring people outside the sporting world together.
“This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,” Pavelko said at a press conference, “the dream of people who survived the horrors of the war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will soon fly.”
Pavelko said that the project is supported by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
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The anticipated Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in development for over three years, was previously considered UEFA’s preferred candidate. FIFA will vote for the host in 2024.
“Now this is not an Iberian bid, but a European bid,” Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation, said at the presentation. “Together we represent the power to transform football in society.”
No details on how many 48-team World Cup games will be played in Ukraine or in which cities have been released. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.
The European bid is expected to face the South American bid with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Saudi Arabia, which has developed close ties to FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino, is preparing a bid for several continents, potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is not clear how Greece will be approved by UEFA to participate in this.
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Crystal Palace and Leeds will meet Sunday at Selhurst Park to record a double four-match losing streak in Premier League play (watch live at 9:00 am ET Sunday on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).
Palace have only won once this season, drawing three times and being outside the relegation zone on goal difference.