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Sally Yates: NWSL investigation ‘needed to end’ for change to happen

Former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates led the U.S. Soccer investigation into abuse in the NWSL. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Upon releasing the findings of U.S. Soccer’s investigation into the NWSL, Sally Yates made sure to emphasize that the issues of verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were deeply rooted and systemic.

While the year-long investigation led by Yates focused on former coaches Christy Holly, Paul Riley and Rory Dames, the former U.S. attorney general was clear in her press conference Monday that they were not the only coaches to perpetuate abuse. But one investigation could only do so much.

While the report on the investigation’s findings shows the widespread problems within the league, and it will be up to the NWSL, U.S. Soccer, the Players Association and other entities to move forward with further investigations and discipline, Yates said.

“We put enough in the report, and we investigated enough, we felt like, to demonstrate the systemic nature of the abuse here,” she said Monday. “But we were also mindful of the fact that it is important that this investigation not go on forever.”

Other teams and coaches weren’t investigated with the same attention to detail, she said, because the report needed to come out in a timely manner in order for changes to be made.

“It’s been almost a year to the day actually since we were retained,” Yates said. “And in order for there to be both transparency and accountability, and to be able to put in place the changes that need to happen, this investigation needed to end because of the breadth and the difficulty of piecing through evidence that it’s quite old. Even with respect to three of these coaches, it was a huge undertaking.”

Yates went on to say that the investigators had to pick and choose the best ways to use their resources.

“We thought that the best use of our resources would be to identify those others and lay out what some of the evidence is there,” Yates said. “And recognizing also, that the joint investigation of the NWSL and the PA is also looking at other coaches. So we thought we should try to use our resources in a way that would be most effective to identify systemic shortcomings and to be able to make recommendations for change.”

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