Once again, the NWSL and U.S. Soccer have been rocked by another enormous scandal. Sally Yates had been given leave to investigate disturbing reports about personnel in the NWSL when U.S. Soccer was still in charge of the league.
On Monday (October 3rd), the report of the investigation was published and it reverberated all across the United States of America and around the world. The Athletic were the first to report on the investigation and many others have since also published their own information.
Along with U.S. Soccer, three teams in the NWSL; Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns FC and Racing Louisville FC, were noted to have not been completely open and did not respond to Yates’ requests for information. Those three teams were also at the heart of the investigation.
The full report by Sally Yates and her team can be found in this link.
As the pressure ramps up on those teams and individuals named within the report, so far, the three teams have done the following:
A STATEMENT FROM MERRITT PAULSON— X - Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 4, 2022
Portland were the first team to respond to the report (and the subsequent ESPN E60 documentary that was aired on October 4, 2022). Merritt Paulson, the owner of the team confirmed that he was removing himself from all “Thorns-related decision making” with immediate effect: see above.
Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub (also implicated in the Yates investigation) were then relieved of their duties today with the Thorns and with the Portland Timbers, as per a statement by the Thorns.
Three players who were some of the few who openly shared their stories to Yates, also posted a statement after the report had been dropped.
Those thoughts were echoed by other former and current players in the NWSL, as well as USWNT captain and current Thorns player Becky Sauerbrunn, and defender Alana Cook, during a press conference before the USWNT’s match against England on Friday.
FYI: The Portland Thorns were under investigation due to their handling of the tenure and departure of former Thorns and NC Courage head coach, Paul Riley. Riley has been accused by Farrelly and Shim to have subjected them to sexual coercion, emotional abuse and homophobia.
Chicago Red Stars
The Red Stars former head coach, Rory Dames, abruptly left the Red Stars after the 2021 NWSL Championship and it wasn’t until the following year it was publicised that he had left due to allegations of misconduct not only with the Red Stars but also with the academy team, Eclipse Select SC.
Chicago were the second team to respond to the Sally Yates investigation and today announced that owner Arnim Whisler would be removing himself from the NWSL board of governors and would be handing over operational control of the Red Stars to the team’s executive committee.
Former Chicago Red Stars players, including Christen Press, came forward with their concerns to not only the Red Stars but also the U.S. Soccer Federation but their concerns were not heard and in some cases, completely dismissed. The investigation by Sally Yates showed who had ignored those issues and thus, we have the situation we have now in Chicago, with the owner having to step away from the team due to public pressure and his part in protecting Dames during his time in Chicago.
Perhaps the one team that has astoundingly not even done the bare minimum after the report dropped, despite how deeply implicated they were, is Racing Louisville.
It took far too long for the team to issue a statement on the report and even then, those involved have not been removed from the club, despite being named by numerous parties within the investigation and after it, as being responsible for the hiring and dismissal of Christy Holly.
Racing Louisville president James O’Connor was named in the investigative report as someone who had kept Holly with the team despite the concerns raised by the players, and who had also blatantly disregarded the misconduct Holly had exhibited throughout his tenure in Louisville. As such, his statement was met by skepticism by current and former Louisville players.
The current Racing Louisville FC player I spoke with today is Louisville native and UofL alumna Emina Ekic. The three former Racing players I spoke with are Julia Ashley, Jorian Baucom and Taylor Otto. These are their reactions to the club's statement after I read it to them: pic.twitter.com/MK7enDID82— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) October 5, 2022
Other NWSL teams have released statements, whether they were involved in the investigation or not, and have also reiterated their intentions to fully cooperate with the NWSLPA’s investigation which is still on going.
Once that report drops, we will hope to have a more comprehensive article outlining everything that has happened and is set to happen. For now, Iwe agree with the players who forcefully stated that all parties involved in the cover up of abuse, in all its forms, should not have their jobs anymore with immediate effect.