USWNT, Portland Thorns guard Becky Sauerbrunn: Players ‘failed’ for leadership

U.S. Women’s National Team guard Becky Sauerbrunn said anyone still contributing to their abusive environment in the NWSL needs to be held accountable after Yates released a report detailing the culture of abuse in women’s professional football. remove.

“For so long, it’s always been on the players who are asking for change, and that’s because people in positions of authority and decision-making have repeatedly failed to protect us and hold themselves and each other accountable,” Sauerbrunn said during a media availability in London. “What exactly are you protecting, who are you protecting, and what values ​​are you upholding? Your steward has failed.

“And I think every owner, executive and U.S. Soccer official who has repeatedly failed players, failed to protect players, hid behind legality, and did not fully participate in these investigations should leave.”

Minutes before Sauerbrunn began speaking to the media, Merritt Paulson, owner of her club’s team, the Portland Thorns, released a statement in which he informed the NWSL that he “will be removing [himself] Start today with all thorn-related decisions” until the joint NWSL and NWSL Players Association investigation is complete.

So did football president Gavin Wilkinson and business president Mike Golub, who featured prominently in the report as enabling or turning a blind eye to the abuse, the statement added.

Asked if her comments applied to Paulson, Sauerbrunn said: “It includes all the people who keep letting players down, who aren’t taken seriously, who aren’t getting the message right, who aren’t participating in the investigation . . . all of them. “

Late Tuesday, Chicago Red Stars president Anim Whistler announced that he would resign from management of the NWSL’s council and hand over operational control of the club to “our executive team in Chicago.”

The Yates report found that Whistler dismissed concerns from players about the conduct of Red Star manager Rory Dames before resigning on November 11. February 21, 2021, amid allegations of verbal and emotional abuse by several players.

In response to the announcements, NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman released a statement saying the league “supports the important steps the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars are taking today.”

“As the Coalition continues to evaluate the Yates Report, I want to assure you that we remain committed to implementing the reforms and disciplinary actions that are the result of the Yates Report and the findings of the joint NWSL/NWSLPA investigative team,” the statement added. .

Berman added that the NWSL’s joint investigative team is working to complete their report by the end of the year.

The U.S. women’s national team is currently in London, preparing to take on England at Wembley Stadium on October 18. 7 days later, Spain in Pamplona. But the focus is on the content of the Yates report released on Monday.

– Carlisle: Yates report explained – key findings and next steps

The Yates Report, commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Association, details allegations of emotional, verbal and sexual abuse by NWSL administrators. While some information has been reported before, there is new information on how former Louisville Motorsports manager Christy Hawley was fired for groping one of his players multiple times, as well as new information on how the former Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage team were fired. More details on the manager’s allegations Paul Riley and former Chicago Red Stars manager Rory Dames.

“The players weren’t doing well,” Sauerbrunn said. “We’re shocked, heartbroken, frustrated, exhausted, really, really angry. We’re outraged by the third-party investigation. We’re outraged by an article in The Athletics and The Washington Post and many others. . . We’re mad that we’ve got this far with over 200 people now sharing our trauma.”

Sauerbrunn added that the players were also angry because the stories of numerous players, including Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly and Erin Simon, “repeatedly ask pundits to take their abuse and concerns seriously”.

U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski said he was “sad” and “unbelievable” by the report’s contents. He added that he has given his players as much space and time as possible to deal with the reported findings in their own way.

“It wasn’t easy because it wasn’t easy for the players. It wasn’t easy for the staff because we were all affected in some way,” Andonowski said. “We’ve all been affected in different ways, and we’ve all dealt with this in different ways.

“Some players, some staff need someone to talk to. Some people need time, some people need space, some people need to deal with all that. Some people need guidance and that’s why we as staff allow players to think and deal and basically do whatever they need to do to get through this difficult time.”

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