As a longtime advocate for player safety in soccer, I was deeply disturbed by the findings of the Yates report on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The report, which was commissioned by the US Soccer Federation (USSF) in response to allegations of abuse and harassment in the league, exposed a culture of toxic behavior that has gone unchecked for far too long.
The Yates report, which was released in February 2022, documented a wide range of abusive behaviors by coaches, staff, and other officials within the NWSL. These included sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and physical assault, as well as a pervasive culture of fear and intimidation that prevented many players from speaking out.
What is particularly troubling about the Yates report is that it highlights a pattern of abusive behavior that is not limited to the NWSL. Similar issues have been reported in other soccer leagues and organizations around the world, including the men’s game.
As someone who has worked closely with players at all levels of the game, I know firsthand how important it is to prioritize safety and well-being in soccer. When players are subjected to abuse and harassment, it not only harms them individually, but it also undermines the integrity of the game as a whole.
The USSF has a responsibility to ensure that players in all leagues and at all levels are protected from abuse and harassment. Unfortunately, the Yates report suggests that the federation has fallen short in this regard, and that significant changes are needed to address the root causes of the problem.
In particular, I believe that the USSF needs to take a more proactive role in addressing abusive behavior in soccer. This should include implementing clear policies and procedures for reporting and investigating incidents of abuse, as well as providing more support and resources for players who have been affected.
At the same time, I believe that the USSF needs to do more to promote a culture of safety and respect within the game. This includes not only addressing abusive behavior when it occurs, but also taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Ultimately, the safety and well-being of players must be the top priority for all organizations involved in soccer, including the USSF. As we move forward, it is my hope that the Yates report will serve as a wake-up call for the entire soccer community, and that we will take the necessary steps to ensure that the game is a safe and positive environment for all players, regardless of their gender or level of play.