United States captain Becky Sauerbrunn has declared the squad are “heartbroken and frustrated” after an independent enquiry found widespread misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Former US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released a report on Monday saying abuse and sexual misconduct spanned multiple teams and coaches, while the NWSL and US Soccer failed to put in “basic measures” to safeguard players or “respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse”.
The revelations have overshadowed the national side’s preparations to face England at Wembley on Friday, with Sauerbrunn stating the squad have been left furious with the situation.
“The players are not doing well. We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry. We are angry that it took a third-party investigation,” she said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Sauerbrunn also called for the removal of individuals from both organisations who failed to protect the players.
“I think for so long this has fallen on the players to demand change. That is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us and they have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable,” she added.
“Who are you actually protecting and what values are you upholding? You have failed in your stewardship.
“Every owner and executive and US 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.”
OL Reign defender Alana Cook added that the situation has marred the upcoming clash against England, saying: “I think we have such a momentous occasion on Friday playing at a sold out Wembley Stadium.
“It’s marred by this report, and it’s marred by the atrocities that have been condoned and tolerated and allowed to go on.”
Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler have already announced they will step aside from their stewardship of the clubs following the release of the report.
Both Paulson and Whisler were cited within the report, the former accused of enabling ex-Thorns boss Paul Riley, who has faced accusations of sexual coercion from former players, while the latter was deemed to have dismissed concerns over the abusive behaviour of former coach Rory Dames.