The report made a lengthy list of recommendations that it said should be adopted by U.S. Soccer, and in some cases the women’s league, including making a public list of individuals suspended or barred by U.S. Soccer, meaningfully vetting coaches when licensing them, requiring investigations into accusations of abuse, making clear policies and rules around acceptable behavior and conduct, and hiring player safety officers, among other requirements.
The report also raises the question of whether some team owners should be disciplined or forced to sell their teams, as it recommended the league “determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate for any of these owners or team executives.”
Even with so much of the worst abuse publicly known, the Yates report is stunning in how meticulously it details how many powerful soccer officials were told about abuse and how little they did to investigate or stop it. Among those whose inaction is detailed are a former U.S. Soccer president; the organization’s former chief executive and women’s national team coach; and the leadership of the Portland Thorns, one of the league’s most popular and best-supported teams.
“Teams, the league and the federation not only repeatedly failed to respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse, they also failed to institute basic measures to prevent and address it,” Yates wrote. She added that “abusive coaches moved from team to team, laundered by press releases thanking them for their service,” while those with knowledge of their misconduct stayed silent.
In a statement, the N.W.S.L. said the report, and an investigation it is undertaking with the players’ union, “will be critical to informing and implementing systemic reform and ensuring that the N.W.S.L. is a league where players are supported, on and off the pitch.” The players’ union said in a statement that players who had spoken to investigators “have shown profound courage and bravery, and we stand with them.”
The national team players association released a statement saying it was “dismayed” that some clubs and U.S. Soccer staff “impeded the investigation,” and urged U.S. Soccer to implement the report’s recommendations. National team players largely did not respond publicly to the report, as they were on a plane to London for a match against England as the report was released.