Oct 3, 2021 - Sports

U.S. Soccer hires Sally Yates to investigate NWSL sexual abuse reports

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates in the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates will lead an investigation into "allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women's professional soccer," effective "immediately," the sport's U.S. governing body announced Sunday.

Of note: The National Women’s Soccer League said Sunday it hired an outside law firm to investigate the widespread reports of NWSL players being subjected to harassment and abuse, often by male coaches.

The big picture: FIFA, soccer's world governing body, is also investigating the reports, which the players' union describes as "systemic abuse plaguing the NWSL."

  • North Carolina Courage last week fired coach Paul Riley over sexual coercion allegations that span multiple teams, and the Washington Spirit removed Richie Burke as its coach following a harassment investigation.

What's happening: The U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement that Yates, who was deputy attorney general in the Obama administration and was briefly acting attorney general before then-President Trump fired her in January 2017, would have "full autonomy" in the investigation.

  • The NWSL announced in a statement the formation of an executive committee to manage oversight of the league’s front office operations, following the resignation of Lisa Baird as commissioner.
  • "The committee includes Amanda Duffy (Orlando Pride), Angie Long (Kansas City NWSL), and Sophie Sauvage (OL Reign)," the statement noted.

Meanwhile, the NWSL said law firm Covington & Burling would oversee investigations into the reports and make recommendations for reforms.

  • Amanda Kramer, former assistant United States attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, "will lead the firm's team and will report directly to the NWSL board’s newly formed executive committee," per the statement.

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