Thursday September 28, 2023

NWSL Investigation Finds Widespread ‘Misconduct’

  • There were reports of ongoing misconduct at more than half the league's clubs during the investigation.
  • The report noted club staff in positions of power "engaged in retaliation against players who attempted to report or did report concerns."
NWSL fans holding signs reading "No more silence" and "respect the players" in response to reports of misconduct by coaches against players
Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
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A second report is putting the NWSL under fire.

The NWSL and NWSLPA’s joint investigation unit issued a final report on Wednesday, a year after allegations of sexual coercion, abuse, and harassment were made public.  

Despite finding that the NWSL “increased efforts to eradicate misconduct, embraced greater accountability, and experienced a culture shift regarding behaviors that are no longer tolerated” since the team began its work, there were reports of ongoing misconduct at more than half the league’s clubs during the investigation.

The report found that club staff in positions of power made sexual remarks, pressured weight loss, made racial jokes, and “created volatile and manipulative working conditions,” among other forms of harassment. 

  • It noted the staff “engaged in retaliation against players who attempted to report or did report concerns.”
  • The league failed to establish what was considered misconduct, how to clearly report misconduct, and the clubs, league, and federation didn’t sufficiently share information.

The Portland Thorns, Racing Louisville, the Chicago Red Stars, the North Carolina Courage, the Houston Dash, the Washington Spirit, and the Kansas City Current were among the teams mentioned in the report.

A separate investigation by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on behalf of the U.S. Soccer Federation reported similar results in October.

Report Recommendations

The report gave six recommendations, including strengthening anti-harassment policies, developing and enforcing guidelines that address appropriate interactions between club staff and players, and enhancing reporting and investigation procedures.

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