US Soccer hires Sally Yates to lead independent NWSL investigation

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U.S. Soccer has hired Sally Yates of King & Spalding LLP to lead the independent investigation into the allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse in the NWSL.

Yates, a former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States, has “extensive experience conducting complex and highly sensitive investigations.,” U.S. Soccer wrote in a statement Sunday.

The statement added that U.S. Soccer “takes seriously its responsibility to vigorously investigate the abhorrent conduct reported” and gain a full understanding of what allowed it to happen and how they can prevent it from happening moving forward.

U.S. Soccer said that Yates will be given full autonomy in the investigation and the federation is committed to sharing the results of the investigation upon conclusion.

The USSF announced Friday that it would launch an investigation following a bombshell report by The Athletic detailing abuse allegations against former North Carolina coach Paul Riley. U.S. Soccer has also suspended Riley’s Pro Level coaching license.

FIFA similarly announced an independent investigation into the allegations of misconduct. Amid the turmoil, NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned from her post and general counsel Lisa Levine was ousted.

On Sunday, the NWSL outlined its “commitment to systemic transformation,” which includes the formation of a new executive committee and plans for multiple investigations and initiatives aimed at protecting players and staff.