Football: US women's stars want results on US Soccer abuse probe

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 10 2022 11:10 AM

The United States women's national soccer team pose for a team photo prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's group G first round football match between Sweden and USA at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 21, 2021. File photo. Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP.
The United States women's national soccer team pose for a team photo prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's group G first round football match between Sweden and USA at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 21, 2021. File photo. Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP.

NEW YORK -- Megan Rapinoe and eight other members of the two-time reigning Women's World Cup champion United States team are demanding the findings of a US Soccer Federation investigation into sexual abuse of players.

The move came in an open letter to USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone and her re-election rival Carlos Cordeiro that was released Wednesday, a day after a Washington Post story detailed abuse of young players by coaches.

The players, who also demanded a commitment to reforms to protect players, said it was "utterly disheartening" to know while they played on the national team and pro clubs and reported incidents as adults that girls were also being abused.

"Now we've learned this abusive treatment also was repeatedly reported by minors and that USSF failed to respond to protect these young players," the letter said.

Players cited women who reported verbal, emotional and physical abuse suffered while playing in the National Women's Soccer League and the USSF only saying it would investigate.

"USSF had the obligation to protect its players -- yet it stood by as abuse continued to occur unchecked.

"USSF should have immediately removed coaching licenses from abusers. Instead, USSF allowed these individuals to coach while saying it would investigate. USSF failed to do the bare minimum -- to keep us and the young girls who play in the youth leagues safe."

In addition to Rapinoe, Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner at the 2019 Women's World Cup, the letter was signed by US stars Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Alex MorganAlex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara, Samantha Mewis and Christen Press.

Cordeiro was past USSF president from 2018 to March 2020 when he resigned under pressure over the legal stance taken against the US women's team in negotiations regarding an equal pay lawsuit.

Parlow Cone, who replaced him, said last October that a probe would investigate the reported conduct, explore factors that allowed it to happen, share the findings and take measures to prevent any repeat of the behavoir.

"We're writing to you on behalf of thousands of little girls across our country who play in the youth leagues, to demand full transparency and accountability in addressing these systemic problems," the letter said.

- 'We suffered' -

The letter cited statements by both candidates saying they wanted to look forward and not back.

"But without true accountability for the past, there is no promising future," the players wrote.

"For years, you allowed coaches and owners to rampantly abuse players. This unchecked and unpunished power endangered the safety, well-being, and careers of far too many women and girls."

The players demanded the findings be made public "in a timely manner" and a promise to enact "meaningful institutional reforms to protect players."

"We will not stop fighting until we can ensure that this sport is safe for ourselves, for our daughters, and for every little girl who cheers us on and dreams of one day playing the sport we all love."

© Agence France-Presse