On Monday afternoon, the US Soccer Federation released an independent report for an investigation into past reports of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in the NWSL.

Former United States Attorney General Sally Yates produced a 172-page report that goes into an investigation into three NWSL coaches. Those coaches are Paul Riley, Rory Dames and Christy Holly. Each of these men managed an NWSL team as recently as 2021. The three coaches faced accusations of various kinds of abuse, including sexual, from former players.

The report brought specific examples of misconduct from all three during their time as coaches in NWSL or otherwise. For example, Rory Dames managed the Chicago Red Stars for a decade. Simultaneously, he founded youth academy Eclipse Select Soccer Club. Dames turned the youth academy into a pipeline for young female soccer players. Yet, while he was coaching teenagers, different players came forward with accusations of sexual advances.

Abusive behavior in NWSL

The main takeaway from the report is that much of the issues in NWSL simply got swept under the rug. For example, Christy Holly, who managed Racing Louisville, got fired from the position “for cause,” according to the press release upon his firing.

While most of the attention went towards the dismissal of Paul Riley from three NWSL teams, Holly was not a name to receive much attention for his firing. Instead, it showed a pattern from NWSL owners to sweep the issues under the rug to protect their integrity.

Now, NWSL and the US Soccer Federation prepare to make a number of reforms to prevent abusive behavior in the future. These reforms include changes to accountability and transparency with the players’ safety at the forefront.

Some of the changes NWSL plans to make are immediate. The federation plans to establish a new Office of Participant Safety. This oversees US Soccer’s conduct policies and reporting mechanisms. Also, US Soccer plans to enact a uniform minimum standard background check for members at every level, including the youth, to comport with USOPC standards.

US Soccer also announced the creation of a new player-driven Participant Safety Taskforce. This convenes leaders of all soccer levels in the country to implement the recommendations listed out in Sally Yates’s report.