NWSL players ‘horrified’ by abuse in report

United States captain Becky Sauerbrunn says players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of “systemic” abuse and misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League.

A report released on Tuesday detailed evidence of abuse and misconduct – both verbal and sexual – in the top-flight domestic league.

Sauerbrunn said the national team players were “not doing well”.

“We are frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry,” Sauerbrunn said.

Sauerbrunn, a two-time World Cup winner, says anyone implicated in the report should be banned from the sport.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now,” she said.

“For so long, this has always fallen on the players to demand change. And that is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us.

“They have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable.”

An investigation was launched last year following allegations made against North Carolina Courage’s English head coach Paul Riley, who was sacked.

Riley, who has coached women’s teams since 2006, has denied the accusations.

After the alleged offences against Riley came to light, a round of NWSL games were suspended before players halted matches in their own displays of unity, while league commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.

Sauerbrunn, who has won 208 caps for the United States since her debut in 2008, added: “We are horrified and heartbroken.

“Every owner and executive and US soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect them, who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated fully in these investigations should be gone.

“It includes everyone that has continued to fail the players time and time again, who didn’t take players’ concerns seriously, who didn’t pass on information correctly, who have not participated in investigations. All of them.”

Sauerbrunn’s side will face England at a sold-out Wembley on Friday.

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