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US Soccer releases report detailing abusive behavior in NWSL

abusive behavior NWSL

On Monday afternoon, the US Soccer Federation released an independent report for an investigation into past reports of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in the NWSL.

Former United States Attorney General Sally Yates produced a 172-page report that goes into an investigation into three NWSL coaches. Those coaches are Paul Riley, Rory Dames and Christy Holly. Each of these men managed an NWSL team as recently as 2021. The three coaches faced accusations of various kinds of abuse, including sexual, from former players.

The report brought specific examples of misconduct from all three during their time as coaches in NWSL or otherwise. For example, Rory Dames managed the Chicago Red Stars for a decade. Simultaneously, he founded youth academy Eclipse Select Soccer Club. Dames turned the youth academy into a pipeline for young female soccer players. Yet, while he was coaching teenagers, different players came forward with accusations of sexual advances.

Abusive behavior in NWSL

The main takeaway from the report is that much of the issues in NWSL simply got swept under the rug. For example, Christy Holly, who managed Racing Louisville, got fired from the position “for cause,” according to the press release upon his firing.

While most of the attention went towards the dismissal of Paul Riley from three NWSL teams, Holly was not a name to receive much attention for his firing. Instead, it showed a pattern from NWSL owners to sweep the issues under the rug to protect their integrity.

Now, NWSL and the US Soccer Federation prepare to make a number of reforms to prevent abusive behavior in the future. These reforms include changes to accountability and transparency with the players’ safety at the forefront.

Some of the changes NWSL plans to make are immediate. The federation plans to establish a new Office of Participant Safety. This oversees US Soccer’s conduct policies and reporting mechanisms. Also, US Soccer plans to enact a uniform minimum standard background check for members at every level, including the youth, to comport with USOPC standards.

US Soccer also announced the creation of a new player-driven Participant Safety Taskforce. This convenes leaders of all soccer levels in the country to implement the recommendations listed out in Sally Yates’s report.


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  1. greg

    October 4, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    This article is from 2021 and much of it is in the report just released, but it’s clear that there were owners and GMs who actively worked to sweep allegations under the rug and kept recycling coaches with histories of misconduct.

    theathletic [] com/2857633/2021/09/30/this-guy-has-a-pattern-amid-institutional-failure-former-nwsl-players-accuse-prominent-coach-of-sexual-coercion

  2. Roberto

    October 4, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    The above article should make anyone who loves football, very angry. That these jerks* could move from team to ream instead of being banned from the league is terrible. Even now there are three teams not cooperating with the league this is a problem where the league could and should take action and penalize those teams.
    After thirty years of high level performance there should be plenty of women who can manage at this level. As the article states there has been excellent male managers but surely there is no need to keep the jerks!
    *is this okay?

  3. Roberto

    October 4, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Why the above word came from other printed media!

    • Roberto

      October 4, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      The above was already moderated, a more accurate version would have been much harsher!

  4. Dermot

    October 4, 2022 at 7:39 am

    So the Team owners knew nothing about this situation?

    • greg

      October 4, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      No, many if not all owners did know, which if you read the report or the stories covering it you will see is the case. It was a complete culture of neglect and a failure of duty-to-care. From the Federation down thru league officials and club owners and admin.

      • Dermot

        October 4, 2022 at 3:46 pm

        If some Owners and GMs knew what was going on but “swept it under the carpet “ what penalties are they going to receive? Or is US Soccer just going to sweep their culpability under the carpet?

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