US Soccer President: More abuse cases surfaced after NWSL report
New reports of alleged sexual misconduct have come to light amid an investigation that has uncovered systemic emotional abuse and sexual misconduct at the National Women’s Soccer League, Soccer Association President Cindy Parlow Cone told CNN on Friday.
Parlow Cone shared in separate interviews New day Anchor Brianna Keilar and world sport Host Amanda Davies said at least three new cases have been reported to the USSF since the probe results were released Monday. Parlow Cone announced the cases were referred to the US Center for SafeSport, a congressional-backed organization focused on preventing sexual, emotional and physical abuse in Olympic and Paralympic sports, and other agencies, but admitted in both Interviews do not give additional details.
“One of the great things about this report is that it’s encouraging more people to come forward,” Parlow Cone said before sharing her hope for next steps.
“I also hope that now people feel safe to come forward or … learn where to go to report this because it’s so important.” She added. “We won’t be able to eradicate it unless bolder people come forward to tell us.”
Monday’s report detailed the findings of an independent investigation commissioned by the US Football Association and led by former acting US Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spalding. The investigation focused on allegations of misconduct involving three former coaches: Paul Riley, a former Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage coach, former Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly, and former Chicago Red Stars coach, Rory Dames. All three were among the five NWSL coaches, along with OL Reign’s Farid Benstiti and Spirit’s Richie Burke, who were fired in 2021 over the allegations.
Parlow Cone, who called the findings “heartbreaking and deeply disturbing,” was among the more than 200 interviews conducted during the investigation. The two-time Olympic gold medalist shared her story of how she experienced an inappropriate comment from a team leader during her tenure as manager of the Portland Thorns from 2012-13; The Yates report noted that the executive was former Thorns chief executive Mike Golub, who was fired on Wednesday.
In addition to Golub, Portland also fired football president and general manager Gavin Wilkinson on the same day, a move that came less than a day after owner Merritt Paulson resigned for his involvement in creating a toxic work environment. Additionally, hours later, the Chicago Red Stars announced that chairman Arnim Whisler had been removed from his position as a result of the report.
“It just goes to show how systemic this was and the lack of process, and I’m really excited now that we have the recommendations,” Parlow Cone told CNN of the report.
She continued, “I’ve wanted to act for so long, but I didn’t want to just do something just to say we do something. I wanted it to make sense and really make a difference and change this culture.”
Parlow Cone’s announcement follows a poignant gesture by the United States and England women’s national team ahead of Friday’s friendly in London.
Players from both countries gathered in the center circle of the iconic Wembley Stadium ahead of the game, wearing teal armbands in support of victims of sexual abuse and a banner reading ‘PROTECT THE PLAYERS’. The players took a picture with the banner on the field while the lights along the stadium arch glowed blue-green.
On Thursday, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, one of several NWSL players who have spoken out since the investigation, called for a change amid the intriguing allegations. Rapinoe, who played with the Red Stars before Dame’s tenure and has been with OL Reign since 2013, called for the removal of Paulson and Whisler while discussing the report during a press conference.
“I think it’s obviously important that these people are in positions of responsibility, and they haven’t fulfilled that responsibility,” Rapinoe said via Taylor Vincent from she plays. “They didn’t protect the players at all. None of these people have shown that they deserve and have a right to be in this beautiful game because they can’t even do the basics of their job.”
“I don’t think Merritt Paulson is suited to be the owner of this team. I don’t think Arnim is fit to be the owner of Chicago. We have to make sure these people go away.”
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