Oct 1, 2021 - Sports

FIFA opens investigation into NWSL allegations of abuse

Photo: Masashi Hara - FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images

FIFA said Friday its judicial bodies have launched an investigation after multiple National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) players detailed allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, often at the hands of male coaches.

Why it matters: As the international body that governs soccer, FIFA could issue sanctions based on its findings.

  • "We would like to reiterate that FIFA’s position is clear: anyone found guilty of misconduct and abuse in football shall be brought to justice, sanctioned and removed from the game," the organization said in a statement.

What they're saying: The worldwide governing body of football said that it was "deeply concerned by the recent reports in the U.S." and would work with both national and international authorities to respond to allegations.

  • As part of the probe, FIFA will be "reaching out to the respective parties, including U.S. Soccer and NWSL, for further information about the various safeguarding concerns and allegations of abuse that have been raised."

The big picture: On Friday, the NWSL canceled games scheduled for the weekend as the controversy drew greater attention.

  • "This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played," NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. "Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect."

The NWSL players' association is currently negotiating its first contract. Their demands focus on safety, economic rights and issues like free agency.

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