Lawmakers call for investigation into alleged harassment, abuse in women's soccer

Lawmakers call for investigation into alleged harassment, abuse in women's soccer
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A group of Democratic lawmakers is calling for an investigation into the alleged sexual harassment and abuse claims in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). 

In a letter, obtained by Politico, sent Wednesday to NWSL interim CEO Marla Messing and U.S. Soccer Federation President Cindy Parlow Cone, the group of 40 lawmakers urged the league and its players to work together to conduct a “thorough investigation” into these claims. 

The letter was led by Rep. Deborah Ross (D-N.C.) and signed by 39 other Democratic lawmakers. 

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The group mentions in their letter the recent firings of four league coaches in the past few months, including former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was fired last month after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were made public. 

“In this latest case, the NWSL was notified multiple times of harassment claims against Mr. Riley, who was suspended as coach of the Portland Thorns in 2015 following reports of misconduct from players but not further disciplined,” the group said in its letter. “This pattern of abuse and inaction constitutes an institutional failure to support and protect the rights and safety of players.” 

“We appreciate that the U.S. Soccer Federation is opening a formal, independent investigation of allegations and the league’s response headed by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesFormer Chicago Red Stars players accuse ex-coach of verbal, emotional abuse An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Sally Yates reveals breast cancer battle MORE,” the group said. “We are also pleased that Riley was removed from his position with North Carolina Courage and that U.S. Soccer has suspended his coaching license.” 

The lawmakers also noted that the NWSL Players Association has asked for every coach and front office personnel to submit to an independent investigation into abusive conduct, the league to include all 12 clubs represented on the board of governors into its investigation on the matter and to determine whether any league office staff member ignored to investigate concerns of abuse. 

“We urge all parties involved in this matter to work together in good faith as the investigation continues. Thank you for your attention to this matter,” they wrote