Probe finds emotional abuse, sexual misconduct in NWSL were systemic, said players, club owners met; women allege abuse and exploitation
Women and the women around them spoke out with frustration against the lack of support and accountability for the predatory behavior alleged in a report released Tuesday by the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Members of the NWSL released the report — titled Emotional Abuse: A Question of Trust Within the NWSL — following allegations from the New York Red Bulls’ Megan Rapinoe and Portland Thorns’ Tobin Heath from a study conducted by the Players Coalition for Gender Equity.
Rapinoe and Heath, who made the allegations, said they were frustrated by a lack of support and accountability in the NWSL. They detailed abuse and violations at their respective clubs, including being groped by team officials and staff.
The players said they feel strongly they need to be listened to and that they want both their actions being documented.
“These are very serious allegations,” NWSL president Lisa Frisbie said. “I respect their courage. We need stronger systems of accountability and trust that those who choose to participate in this sport must have. We need to be fully accountable for those allegations of abuse. We will be transparent with our findings.”
The Players Coalition for Gender Equity (PCGE) is a Washington-based sports civil rights advocacy organization “dedicated to eliminating the obstacles to achieving gender equity,” it said in a statement. “The evidence, which is not limited to the recent report, is troubling, and this work is part of a growing trend where women are becoming vocal, with consequences for men who fail to listen.”
The PCGE did not specify what it believed would be consequences should a member of the NWSL find misconduct.
Rapinoe and Heath detailed what they witnessed, including what they claim was unwanted sexual contact with teammates and staff after the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final. They detailed their experiences with the alleged inappropriate advances by team officials and staff.
The players are not the only victims of sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer.
A 2018 report by the U.S. Soccer Foundation