An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League last season showed that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players
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By ANNE M. PETERSON=
AP Sports Writer=
An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League made numerous recommendations to ensure players are protected.
U.S. Soccer retained former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spaulding to conduct the investigation, which was released Monday.
Yates and her team made recommendations for the league and U.S. Soccer ”aimed at preventing abuse in the future, holding wrongdoers accountable, enhancing transparency, addressing safety in youth soccer, and fostering a professional environment where players are treated with respect.”
Some of the recommendations and planned programs:
The report recommended that teams should be required to ”accurately disclose misconduct to the NWSL” and U.S. Soccer to ensure coaches do not move between teams.
Teams should eliminate nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreements to shield information about abusive coaches.
A list of coaches who were banned, suspended or disciplined by U.S. Soccer should be public.
U.S. Soccer should require ”meaningful vetting” of coaches, including U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee-compliant background checks.
U.S. Soccer should use its licensing authority – moving from a diploma system to an accreditation program with annual recertification.
The federation should require the NWSL to conduct immediate investigations following reports of misconduct and immediately report outcomes. Teams should not be allowed to investigate themselves when there are reports of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse.
The NWSL should conduct annual training for players and coaches on abuse and harassment policies.
U.S. Soccer and NWSL teams should designate individuals within their organizations to oversee player safety issues. The teams must ensure coaches do not have undue influence over the lives of their players.
U.S. Soccer should work with its youth organizations to determine whether additional measures are needed to protect those players.
The NWSL should determine whether discipline of its teams is warranted following the revelations contained in Yates’ report.
U.S. SOCCER ACTIONS
The federation said it will immediately establish an Office of Participant Safety to oversee policies and reporting process, publish relevant records from SafeSports’ disciplinary database, and mandate a minimum standard for background checks of all U.S. soccer members at every level of the game.
U.S. Soccer has also created a committee to ”comprehensively address the report’s recommendations going forward.” The committee will share an action plan before Jan. 21, 2023.
Additionally, U.S. Soccer set up a player-driven ”Participant Safety Task Force” to coordinate efforts to implement policies.
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