Commentary

Sally Yates: 'The NWSL has the authority to deal with owners'

In the hours after Monday's publication of the Yates Report into the NWSL, the reaction of those in the soccer community was rather muted, one of shock, as they tried to absorb the details of abuse by the league's coaches and inaction of the sport's leaders.



When the report was published on Monday morning, members of the two-time reigning world champion U.S. national team were en route to London to prepare for Friday's friendly against England at sold-out Wembley Stadium and a match four days later at Spain (minus 15 players who refuse to play until their coach, Jorge Vilda, leaves).

One person who had a chance to review the report — "I am still dealing with it and trying to absorb all of it" — was U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, who described the details in the 319 pages of findings, recommendations, footnotes and documents as "infuriating" and "shocking."

"As new things come up," she said in a media call on Monday afternoon, "I just found it really maddening that players had to go through this."

Cone is a former NWSL coach — "Many of the players in this report I know, many of them I’ve coached," she said — and she appears herself in the report as a victim.

On the issue of the workplace culture at the Portland Thorns, which she coached in the NWSL's first season and led to the 2013 league championship,  she told Yates investigators that when she was the coach in 2013, Portland Thorns and Timbers president of business Mike Golub once asked her, "What’s on your bucket list besides sleeping with me?"

(Cone told Golub never to speak to her like that again, and she told investigators that he did not.)

Sally Yates separately spoke with the media, using it as an opportunity to emphasize key points of the report, which said the verbal and emotional abuse players described in the NWSL wasn't merely “tough” coaching.

“We’re talking about sustained degrading and manipulative conduct that was all about power," she said, "not about enhancing a player’s performance."

Even "more disturbing," the report found, was a pattern of sexually charged comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexual touching, and coercive sexual intercourse.

The abuse committed by NWSL coaches — in particular, Paul Riley and Rory Dames — was previously reported by reporters from The Athletic and Washington Post — without their work, such an investigation would have never likely taken place — but Yates' report reveals how these abusers remained in the league even after players came forward and those in power within the NWSL and U.S. Soccer failed to act.

“They not only failed to respond appropriately to evidence of abuse," Yates said, "they had also failed to institute the most basic measures to prevent and address these issues to begin with, even as some of them privately acknowledged the need for these things.”

The report concentrates on the abuse by Riley, Dames and former Sky Blue FC and Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly, but other coaches have left the NWSL or remain suspended or on administrative leave.

Yates said that was "a huge undertaking" just to investigate the cases of Riley, Dames and Holly and she was "mindful of the fact that it's important that this investigation not go on forever."

The NWSL and NWSL Players Association are conducting their own investigation into what happened within the NWSL, and Yates said it will be the league's decision about what to do with the results of the U.S. Soccer and NWSL/NWSLPA findings and recommendations.

Yates Report recommendations include determining "whether disciplinary action is appropriate for any of these owners or team executives."

"The NWSL," Yates noted to the media, "has the authority to deal with owners."  
7 comments about "Sally Yates: 'The NWSL has the authority to deal with owners'".
  1. cony konstin, October 4, 2022 at 11:55 a.m.

    I highly recommend that people read this article. The writer speaks from his heart. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland-thorns/2022/10/bill-oram-merritt-paulson-must-sell.html?e=bbd95e2dbf2599328425367756058bc6&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Bill%20Oram:%20Merritt%20Paulson%20must%20sell&utm_term=Newsletter_breaking_news

  2. Bob Ashpole, October 4, 2022 at 12:26 p.m.

    The "soccer community" was shocked? I doubt any women were shocked or any male professionals that deal with enforcement of equal opportunity laws in the work place. So a lot of men who should have known better were shocked that sexism and discrimination actual exist in the workplace. 

    I suspect this means that "the soccer community" is not really one community.

  3. Kevin Leahy, October 4, 2022 at 8 p.m.

    People in authority have been shielding people for centuries from their misdeeds. Hope all victims are given the voice they need to put an end to the abuse!

  4. beautiful game replied, October 5, 2022 at 11:56 a.m.

    Due diligence and oversight were not in place to expose and deal with the perps.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, October 5, 2022 at 1:04 p.m.

    BG, USSF is more of a trade association for soccer businesses. Oversight does not advance their goals, but cover up is a short term strategy. Most business managers will take a short term solution everytime, figuring on getting out of Dodge before the story breaks.

    I don't think USSF will ever change its trade association status. By federal law they are supposed to promote amateur athletics, but there is no financial profit in that. So they only do the bare minimum that they can get away with. Like running background checks on youth coaches when legally required. Is there ever any actual oversight--almost unheard of.

  6. humble 1, October 7, 2022 at 10:53 a.m.

    They are a bit more than a trade association for the ladies as in many cases, those of the WNT players they pay part of the player salary, so they are in this case like an employer.  This is where things get complicated for the USSF.  

  7. humble 1 replied, October 7, 2022 at 11 a.m.

    Complicated is maybe wrong word, not so simple, is what I mean.

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