San Diego Wave coach Casey Stoney has a zero-tolerance policy for coach-player relationships.
At a media availability session Friday, Stoney was asked about the recent U.S. Soccer report, which detailed alleged abuses by former NWSL coaches. Former Thorns coach Paul Riley and former Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly both sexually coerced players on their teams, per the report.
In addition to allegations of sexual coercion, Holly was asked to leave Sky Blue FC in the middle of the 2017 season in part because of his “relationship with a player,” per the U.S. Soccer report. His relationship with Sky Blue captain Christie Pearce Rampone had become so disruptive that he “lost the locker room,” according to the report.
As such reports have come to light, power dynamics in the NWSL have been called into question.
“I don’t agree with staff having relationships with players on any level,” Stoney said. “It’s a power dynamic that should not happen. But this isn’t just an NWSL problem, it’s a women’s sport problem, it’s a women’s football problem.”
Stoney hammered home her point.
“I’ve seen it in so many clubs I’ve been apart of and I don’t agree with it,” she continued. “I’ve moved staff away from my environments in previous jobs because there’s been boundaries crossed, I will not have it at all. I don’t agree with it on any level.”
A number of coach-player relationships have occurred in soccer as well as in other sports.
Former U.S. women’s national team star Julie Foudy married one of her coaches. She began dating her husband, Ian Sawyers, in 1989, when she was 18 and he was 27. At the time, she was playing for one youth club, while he was coaching another youth team, Sports Illustrated reported in 2001.
Sawyers followed Foudy to Stanford and became an assistant women’s coach for the Cardinal during her sophomore season. The two later married in 1995.
Former USWNT player Danielle Garrett also married a man who worked as her coach during their relationship, Sports Illustrated reported, underlining Stoney’s point about the normalization of such relationships in the women’s sports community.