The report focused on Paul Riley, the former head coach of the Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage, Christy Holly, the former head coach of Racing Louisville, and Rory Dames, the former head coach of the Chicago Red Stars. However, its ripple effects are moving far beyond those teams.
National team players are ‘horrified and heartbroken’
Becky Sauerbrunn, captain of the U.S. women’s national team, met with the media on Tuesday to address the report ahead of the team’s Friday match against England.
“Because I imagine we’ll get this question eventually, the players are not doing well,” she said during the press conference. “We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry.”
Crystal Dunn, Sauerbrunn’s teammate on both the national team and the Thorns, said she is keeping her focus on the sport she loves as she prepares to suit up for the Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs this month, according to The Guardian.
“The jerseys that we’re wearing, it’s hard to be happy in them,” Dunn said. “It’s hard to find joy in wearing it. The sport we get to play, we truly love, and as hard as it is to pull on the jersey that you think represents so much devastation and atrocity and trauma, I think leaning on each other is the way we get through it.”
Players are calling for those involved to step down
In the same press conference, Sauerbrunn called for the league and U.S. Soccer leadership to hold each other accountable.
“It’s my opinion that every owner and executive and U.S. Soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players, who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated in these investigations should be gone,” she said.
Megan Rapinoe, a national team player and a forward for the OL Reign, called for the owners of the Thorns and Red Stars to step down because of their inaction despite knowing about misconduct allegations, according to USA Today.
“I don’t think Merritt Paulson is fit to be the owner,” she said. “I don’t think Arnim (Whisler) is fit to be the owner in Chicago. We need to see those people gone.”
How are teams responding?
Paulson, the owner of the Thorns and Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, announced on Tuesday that he is removing himself from “all Thorns-related decision making” until an additional report is released in November, according to the Oregonian.
The following day, the Thorns fired general manager Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub, the Oregonian reported. The investigation found that Golub once asked Cindy Parlow Cone, then the head coach of the Thorns and now U.S. Soccer president, “What’s on your bucket list besides sleeping with me?”
The Red Stars announced on Wednesday that their board of directors voted to remove Whisler, the team’s owner and founder, as chairman, and the board wants to facilitate the sale of Whisler’s shares in the team, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The move follows revelations in the report that Whisler dismissed complaints about Dames’ misconduct from players and staffers on multiple occasions.
In addition to the Thorns and Red Stars, seven of the National Women’s Soccer League’s 12 teams have released statements in response to the report and to the stories of misconduct and abuse included in ESPN’s documentary “Truth Be Told — The Fight For Women’s Professional Soccer,” which aired on Tuesday.