Some of the U.S. women’s national team’s biggest stars are publicly criticizing the U.S. Soccer Federation for “willful inaction” in a letter released on Wednesday.
It comes in the wake of a Washington Post article that detailed alleged misconduct with youth players by former Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames.
Here's the full text of the letter sent to USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone and and candidate(/former prez) Carlos Cordeiro from #USWNT players Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan, Kelley O'Hara, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. pic.twitter.com/ydCplFsXYU— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) February 9, 2022
Here's the full text of the letter sent to USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone and and candidate(/former prez) Carlos Cordeiro from #USWNT players Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan, Kelley O'Hara, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. pic.twitter.com/ydCplFsXYU
“U.S. Soccer had the obligation to protect its players — yet it stood by as abuse continued to occur unchecked,” the players wrote in the letter, addressed to federation president Cindy Parlow Cone and former president Carlos Cordeiro.
Cordeiro is seeking to unseat Cone in the upcoming presidential election.
In the letter, the players state that the federation “failed to do the bare minimum — to keep us and the young girls who play in the youth leagues safe.”
The letter was signed by nine players in total: Christen press, Crystal Dunn, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn.
“Over the years, while we played on the USWNT and in the National Women’s Soccer League, many of us reported to USSF instances where, as adults, we experienced abusive conduct by our coaches,” they wrote. “Now we have learned that this abusive treatment also was repeatedly reported by minors and that USSF failed to respond to protect these young players. This is utterly disheartening.”
Last year, the NWSL was rocked by multiple scandals in which prominent coaches were at the center of multiple abuse allegations. U.S. Soccer, which oversaw the NWSL up until last year, also oversees the country’s youth soccer system.
In October, the federation appointed former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates to investigate the allegations.
In the letter, the players demanded “full transparency and accountability in addressing these systemic problems” before outlining a series of questions in relation to the investigation.
In a statement sent to ESPN, the federation said that the new leadership “is focused on creating a safe space for all athletes” and is committed to making the findings of the investigation public.
Cordeiro, also in a statement to ESPN, said that he is in the process of responding to the players.
“Everyone — especially the players who have been mistreated, abused and traumatized — deserve the results of the Sally Yates investigation as soon as possible,” he said. “I agree with our women’s players that U.S. Soccer should take immediate actions to make sure that all players are protected and nothing like this ever happens again.”
USWNT players are currently in the midst of a legal battle with the USSF over equal pay, with appeals arguments set for March. Cordeiro stepped down in 2020 following public backlash after U.S. Soccer used sexist arguments to defend itself in the lawsuit.
In the letter, players cited both Cone and Cordeiro’s campaign promises about moving forward, but said that it’s not possible without accountability.
“In both of your campaign platforms to be re-elected as presidents of USSF, you discussed the need to look forward, not back,” the players said. “But without true accountability for the past, there is no promising future. For years, you allowed coaches and owners to rampantly abuse players.
“This unchecked and unpunished power endangered the safety, well-being, and careers of far too many women and girls. We suffered so that you could protect your bottom line. To rebuild the trust of players, fans, and sponsors — to move forward — USSF must show that it is serious about change.”