A year-long independent investigation found that sexual misconduct and emotional abuse in women's soccer in the United States were "systemic."
A 319-page report made public on Oct. 3 found that abuse and misconduct in U.S. women's soccer spanned multiple teams, was perpetrated by several coaches, and affected many players.
"Abuse in the [National Women's Soccer League] is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, beginning in youth leagues, that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players," the investigators, led by former U.S. acting Attorney General Sally Yates, wrote.
The report found that teams, NWSL, and the U.S. Soccer Federation failed to respond appropriately to reports and evidence of abuse and institute basic measures to prevent and address it, which allowed abusive coaches to move from team to team.
Among those that the report listed as misconduct included a coach showing a player pornography that was supposed to be a game-film review and masturbating in front of her, and another who coerced players into sexual relationships.
The report was commissioned after North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was fired and National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned in the wake of abuse allegations made by former players last year.
U.S. Soccer President and former World Cup-winning player Cindy Parlow Cone described the findings as "heartbreaking and deeply troubling."
"The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, in any training facility or workplace," Cone said in a statement.
In response to the report, U.S. Soccer said it will establish a new Office of Participant Safety to oversee U.S. Soccer's conduct policies and reporting mechanisms and a new committee of the Board of Directors to address the report's recommendations, among other steps the federation will take.