The fallout from the Yates report on abuses in the National Women’s Football League, released Monday, is still affecting the sport.

Not only did the US women’s team players react to the report’s disclosure of systematic verbal, emotional and sexual abuse against league players, but fans, sponsors, domestic violence experts and politicians are speaking out on how to deal with it and move forward. especially with regard to the participation of three teams in the investigation: the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns and Racing Louisville.

- Advertisement -

– USSF report detects system abuse in NWSL.
– USSF president calls report “first step” towards change

- Advertisement -

For years, the Red Stars retained Rory Dames as their manager despite numerous complaints about his behavior. Although the Portland Spikes fired Paul Riley back in 2015, they covered up the reasons for his firing for years and even helped him find a new job. As for Louisville, the hiring (and, briefly, defense) of Christy Holley made him look bad, even though the club ended up firing Holley for numerous instances of Holly groping one of the team’s players.

- Advertisement -

The fact that all three clubs used tactics that either hindered or delayed the investigation to varying degrees also caused some pain in the game. Late Tuesday night, both Merritt Paulson of the Portland Thorns and Arnim Whisler of the Chicago Red Stars said they would step aside until a joint NWSL/NWSL Players Association investigation was completed.

By Wednesday evening, the Red Stars’ board of directors had formally removed Whisler as chairman of the board, which they said in a statement would “seal his removal from any further involvement with the club or the board.” Portland also took a significant step toward accountability Wednesday with the announcement of the firing of Portland Football President Gavin Wilkinson and Business President Mike Golub.

However, the end of the investigation is not in sight. Here’s a quick overview of the other reactions so far.

– Broadcasts on Sportzshala+: La Liga, Bundesliga, MLS and more (USA)


While both Paulson and Whisler expressed regret over the events documented in the Yeats report, it cannot be taken at face value given everything that happened and their role in keeping the wrongdoing quiet. It was also lacking for US women’s team captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who spoke on the subject on the Tuesday ahead of the England-US match at Wembley on Friday.

“For a long time, the player has always demanded change, and that’s because the people in power and decision makers have repeatedly failed to protect us and failed to hold themselves and each other accountable,” she said. during a conference call with reporters. “And what and whom do you actually protect and what values ​​do you stand for?

“You have failed in your management. And I believe that all US Soccer owners, executives and officials who have repeatedly let down players and failed to protect players who have been hiding behind the laws and not taking full part in these investigations should go. .”

When asked if the people in power would make the necessary changes, Sauerbrunn replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know if the right people are in place to do what needs to be done.”

Former Racing Louisville quarterback Brooke Hendricks — a friend of Erin Simon who said Holly touched her multiple times, as detailed in the Yates report — told local WHAS that several players had approached club management to complain about Holly. but to no avail.

“They’re just like, ‘No, he’s doing his job. He does it.” They didn’t really achieve anything,” Hendrix said. “And we never got together until this whole incident came out.”

She added, “Personally, I didn’t think it would stop in Louisville. I was very nervous for Erin.”

The Athletes’ Council, which represents athletes in the US Football Federation, said: “There is a lot of work to be done and we are ready to work with our extended US football family to bring about positive, significant and lasting change. to the system, and these changes must happen now.”

Angel City forward Sydney Leroux succinctly tweeted: “No damage control. Only damage.”

On Wednesday, USWNT linebacker Lindsey Horan spoke to the assembled media in London during the mixed zone availability ahead of Friday’s game against England. She has been with the Portland Thorns since 2016, although she is on loan from French side Lyon this season.

“Personally, I feel embarrassed just because during the course of this investigation I learned something new that I did not know before,” Horan said. “I wanted to wait and read this for myself and being part of an organization that was involved in this is really tough for me. So I just want to make sure I repeat what Becky said and thank these players for coming forward.

“I also want to say that it’s not just that. It’s not just NWSL. This is women’s football in general. These are women in general. We have these problems all over the world. This is a global, systemic problem. I don’t want this to be the final destination, for example, this investigation has started and obviously we are grateful for that, but it took too long. This whole thing has gone on incredibly long, and I’m sitting here thinking, “It’s not done.” It’s happening all over the world, and as a player in Europe right now, I know it.”

Erin Simon, the player who shared her allegations of Holly’s abuse in the Yates Report, reflected on Wednesday night that her story had been made public.

“It was by no means an easy journey. However, the outpouring of love and support I have received from so many people has given me more strength, hope and motivation to keep moving forward towards change,” she wrote in part. on her Instagram page. She added that she is “on the road to permanent healing” and “can still smile no matter what.”

“I pray that in all of this, every person who has been affected by what has come to light will challenge themselves and not give up on this game we love,” she concluded her message. “Instead, we see this as an opportunity to be a catalyst for change. Let’s be the voices that will bring this sport back to the safe place we all deserve.”

Fans and support groups

On Tuesday, 107ist, an organizational arm that includes the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters, who support the Portland Timbers in the MLS and the Portland Thorns in the NWSL, respectively, announced that it had ceased contact with the Portland front office. Relations between team management and club fans have been strained for some time, whether it’s the Iron Front flag-waving saga in 2019, the first revelations of Paul Riley’s alleged abuse in 2021, his dealings with Andy Polo’s domestic abuse. incident earlier this year to Yeats’ most recent report.

What was the turning point?

“We’ve always believed in the players, always, always, always,” Tina Ettin, a member of the Rose City Riveters steering committee who is also the head of the fan sections at Timbers and Thorns games, told Sportzshala. “But seeing how blatantly wrong they handled every single situation and how they threw the ball to every player and gave little to no help to any of the players who asked for help and created these terrible situations, it was really the straw that broke the camel. back.”

When the news of Wilkinson and Golub’s firing broke on Wednesday, Ettin told Sportzshala by phone that it was “awesome, but it shouldn’t have taken that long as a lot of the players had to come forward with their stories, the investigation they had to be done within a year.” something. But it’s nice to see some form of accountability happening.”

Ettin added that Paulson should also leave. “He still needs to accept how he let these players down. So I still think he needs to consider selling the team.”

The Lavender Legion, Racing Louisville’s official supporter group, issued a similar statement, ripping through its front office for Holly’s hiring.

“The Lavender Legion is outraged by the results of the Yeats investigation. [front office] covered up Christie Holly’s disgusting behavior towards our players. Trust has been broken. The cover-up for abuse is deeply rooted in the NWSL and must be stopped. As a board, we share the opinion of Becky Sauerbrunn, saying that everyone involved in this should be removed from power.

“Protect players at all costs.”

The Louisville Ledgehogs, an independent group of supporters of Racing Louisville, demanded that any member of the organization who had knowledge of Holly’s wrongdoing prior to his hiring “resign immediately.” The statement also said that “we also urge the NWSL to stop issuing statements and take immediate and preventive action.”

Chicago Local 134, the official Red Stars supporter group, said in a tweet quoting from the 107ist statement: “We stand in solidarity with our friends and stand ready to provide resources to support their collective action.”

Team and league sponsors

Sponsors also seem to be walking a fine line, condemning the behavior described in the report, but not completely abandoning the teams – at least if the clubs make changes.

Providence, the healthcare organization that owns the rights to the Thorns Stadium name, shared a letter from William Olsen, CEO of the company’s Oregon branch. “Yates’ report is deeply disturbing,” the letter said. “Providence supports Portland Thorns players, past and present, on and off the field. We also support anyone who has been abused or has been subjected to any form of sexual harassment or misconduct.”

He continued: “We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Thorns who issued a statement today. We will keep you updated on any future developments.”