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The investigation was commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation and was conducted by Sally Yates.

Three coaches in the National Women's Soccer League who have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse are the focus of the report. It sheds new light on the alleged misdeeds of these three coaches, as well as the repeated failures by team owners, U.S. Soccer officials and others to heed warnings about them.

- USSF report finds systemic abuse in NWSL

- USSF president calls report 'first step' towards change

According to the summary of the investigation's findings, there was a league in which verbal and emotional abuse and sexual abuse were pervasive. Abuse in the NWSL is a result of a deeper culture in women's soccer that starts in the youth league.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the report.

Why was this investigation commissioned, and why was Yates chosen to lead it?

Two former Thorns players said that Riley sexually harassed them and sent them lewd photos. In one instance, he told the players to kiss each other to get out of training drills, and in another, he greeted a player for a game film review session in his underwear. He was accused of having sex with players.

Yates was retained by U.S. Soccer to lead an investigation into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual harassment in women's soccer. Yates will have full access and resources to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead, according to the federation.

One of the five dismissals of coaches in the league was that of Riley.

The report, commissioned by U.S. Soccer, found system issues within NWSL that must now be addressed in order to prevent future issues of player safety. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yates served as the deputy U.S. attorney general and briefly as the U.S. attorney general. She has three decades of public service at the Department of Justice under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Did everyone cooperate with the investigators?

The report says that some people did not fully cooperate.

Racing Louisville wouldn't allow witnesses to answer questions about Holly's tenure, citing non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements it signed with Holly. Holly's conduct has remained largely unknown, including to anyone who might seek to hire him as a coach.

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The Portland Thorns interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to impede our use of relevant documents. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Thorns tried to prevent Yates' reps from seeing the club's investigation into Riley. The production of relevant documents was delayed by the Chicago Red Stars.

The former commissioner of the NWSL didn't respond to investigators. Although he was aware of allegations of sexual abuse against Riley, he did not stop him from continuing to coach in the league. The CEO of USA curling is him.


Alex Morgan spoke out against Paul Riley, but the NWSL didn't support him. On October 4th at 7pm, E60: Truth Be Told will be airing.

What does the report say about Holly, and why he was fired?

Holly's exit from Racing Louisville is detailed in the Yates report for the first time, despite the fact that much of the allegations against Riley and Dames became public through investigative journalism.

Holly had previously coached for Sky Blue FC and players complained that he was "paranoid, ultra- aggressive, short-tempered, nasty, mean, patronizing, humiliating" and that he had a romantic relationship with a player. The club issued a news release thanking him for his service after he resigned because of the complaints.

Holly was an assistant coach for the youth women's national teams. According to the report, no one at USSF sought to determine the reason for his departure from Sky Blue or conduct any vetting prior to Holly's work for USSF.

Holly was abruptly fired by Racing Louisville in 2021, with no reasons given for his exit despite the club noting he was fired for cause. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Racing Louisville hired him as their first head coach due to his experience at U.S. soccer. He allegedly continued the same behavior from his time at Sky Blue, sending sexually explicit photos and messages to a particular player and demanding she reciprocate. She was shown pornography and masturbated in front of her when she met with him to review game film.

Under the guise of watching game film, he told her he would touch her for every pass she made. He put his hands down her pants and shirt. She tried to push him away so she wouldn't get angry with him. She left after the video finished. The player broke down when her teammate drove her home.

The club disclosed that it had fired Holly for cause, but it wouldn't give any details.

Could Riley's alleged abusive behavior have been addressed sooner?

The Athletic report detailed sexual harassment and coercion from Riley toward players when he was the Portland Thorns' coach. The Thorns' front office received a report on Riley's behavior from one of their players.

The Yates report states that there were red flags about Riley in his first season in Portland.

"Truth Be Told: The Fight for Women's Professional Soccer" is a new show. On the same day as on the other two sports networks.

The NWSL issued an anonymous survey in which players said that Riley was abusive, sexist anddestructive. The survey results were not given to the team and no action was taken despite the fact that they were shared with other people.

The players on the U.S. women's national team said that Riley belittled and Verbally Abused them. The feedback was shared with Flynn, Bailey and the NWSL general counsel. The report states that no action was taken after Bailey sent the information.

Riley's behavior in Portland was flagged to U.S. Soccer and the NWSL following his exit in 2015, but he continued to work as a coach in the league with the North Carolina Courage. Getty Images

In Portland, inappropriate comments to female employees and players seemed to be accepted or downplayed. According to the report, Portland Timbers/Thorns head of business operations Mike Golub asked Cindy Parlow Cone what her bucket list was. He told her he wished she had told him when it happened. Thorns players said that Paulson made inappropriate comments, such as trying to discuss with them leaked nude photos of a USWNT player.

Why did Riley keep coaching in the NWSL after Shim filed her complaint?

The Yates report states that the Thorns did not address the most serious of the allegations against Riley. The Thorns did not include the terms "sexual" or "harassment" in their report, despite the fact that Riley had sent a text to her that said, "I am so horny I want to f---." The Thorns report didn't include the allegations of retaliation.

The Thorns concluded that Riley sent "inappropriate texts," served alcohol to players, invited Shim to his hotel room and danced with her. The Thorns fired Riley privately and publicly thanked him for his service, even though they didn't renew his contract.


She spoke out about her experience under former coach Paul Riley, who is accused of sexual harassment. On October 4th at 7pm, E60: Truth Be Told will be airing.

The report states that executives in both the NWSL and U.S. Soccer decided not to discipline Riley. The team that was relocated and renamed the North Carolina Courage was hired by Riley within months.

The Thorns have previously admitted that the club's general manager gave Riley a positive recommendation for the job, but that the recommendation was only for Riley's performance as a coach.

The Yates investigation shows that the story that Riley was put in a bad position by the player was not true. The 2015 Thorns Report was received by both Levine and Flynn, but no additional information was provided to the flash.

Wilkinson, left, and Paulson, right, were both noted by the Yates report as failing to cooperate with the independent investigation. Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to Yates' investigators, Wilkinson said he would hire Riley again and that he spoke to the flash about it. The flash told investigators that the club should hire Riley if they could because he had only one altercation with a disgruntled player.

According to the report, after Riley was hired by Western New York, Paulson sent a note to the president of the flash that said "best of luck this season and congrats on the Riley hire." I am very fond of him.

The union for the U.S. women's national team warned the federation about Riley's behavior after he was mentioned as a potential candidate for the national team coaching job. Riley withdrew himself from consideration after at least 14 conversations with 11 people at the Federation, the League, the Portland Thorns, and the NC Courage.

According to sources, if Riley withdrew from consideration for the job, it would be a good idea. According to the messages obtained by the investigators, Paulson tried to keep the fact that Riley had been fired a secret from the rest of the team, while he was still with them. There is a technicality but a difference.

The report says that after Riley dropped out of the running for the USWNT job, Paulson sent a text message to Malik. "Obviously, I talked to him," said the man.

Why weren't decades-old allegations of abuse by Dames noticed sooner?

A number of reports in the Washington Post revealed that Dames had been accused of abuse as far back as 1998, with one former youth player of his at Chicago Eclipse Select going as far as to file a police report. One player said he made sexual comments to players, while another said he heard rumors of Dames dating players.

Christen Press, a forward for the Chicago Red Stars, has accused Dames of verbal and emotional abuse. He left a year ago. The Red Stars never did a background check and relied on the reputation of his youth club to get his job, according to the Yates investigation.

Dames spoke to players about foreplay, oral sex, and their sex lives during his time at Eclipse. The report states that Dames talked to another coach about the age of consent and how it was lower in some places.

Dames, a former coach for the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars, was also named in the report for fostering a 'hostile environment.' Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The USWNT players flagged Dames as creating a hostile environment and yelling at players when they raised concerns about Riley. The Red Stars owner complained that the National Team players wanted the league to shut down and that they had an axe to grind with Dames.

Red Stars players found Dames to be "abusive" and "un professional". According to the report, he acknowledged that he was aware of those complaints, but largely dismissed them.

Dames offered his resignation because of the embarrassment of the player feedback, but he was not accepted by the NWSL. The results of the survey were forwarded to the US Soccer CCO, but no action was taken.

According to the Yates report, players and staff have complained about Dames's verbal and emotional abuse. One player said that she raised concerns about Dames over a number of years, and every year, she asked if he was a little bit better. The player declared that Dames' behavior was a lost cause.


Kaiya said she wanted to quit the Washington Spirit because of her work under Burke. On October 4th at 7pm, E60: Truth Be Told will be airing.

Why was Dames allowed to keep coaching the Red Stars after Press reported him to U.S. Soccer?

The Washington Post was going to publish a report about allegations the club previously failed to address when Press was allowed to coach in the NWSL.

The last action the U.S. Soccer took with the complaint was hiring outside counsel. Many of the players' core complaints were substantiated by the report on Dames's conduct. The investigation report was not distributed within the Federation or given to the NWSL.

Dames was accused by another player of engaging in inappropriate relationships with players. She said she tried to report her concerns but they were dismissed. According to the report, he said the player was trying to takeRory out. Within six days of Johnson's complaint, she was traded to the Utah Royals.

The Red Stars retained a sports psychologist after the news of Riley's firing broke. According to the psychologist's report, 70% of the players interviewed, including most of the team's starting players, reported emotionally abusive behaviors.

How thorough was the Yates investigation, and was it truly independent?

The 319-page report says it was "independent of interference or influence" and was based on "well over 200 interviews," which included coaches, owners, front-office staff and "more than 100" current and former players in the NWSL and the U.S. women's national team. The investigation team reviewed "over 89,000 documents" it deemed relevant.< U.S. Soccer reps have likewise insisted they stayed out of the investigation and let Yates handle it.

Yates, who specializes in internal and independent investigations, has experience as a federal prosecutor and previously served as the deputy U.S. attorney general and acting U.S. attorney general. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The report states that no current U.S. Soccer executives are named in the report. The NWSL was run by the federation until last year.

"Teams, the League, and the Federation failed to respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse, even as some leaders privately acknowledged the need for workplace protections."

Abused coaches moved from team to team, laundered by press releases thanking them for their service, and positive references from teams that minimized or even concealed wrongdoing. The people in a position to correct the record didn't speak. No one at the teams, the League or the Federation wanted a better coach.

Why was such abuse so widespread throughout different teams in the NWSL?

There are a lot of contributing factors, but there are some recurring ones that have been cited a lot since last year's string of high-profile coach dismissals.

The report states that both the U.S. Soccer and the league's owners failed to institute the most basic of workplace protections. The league didn't have an anti-harassment policy, an anti-retaliation policy or a no-fraternization policy. The teams didn't conduct proper due diligence when hiring coaches. The report says the players were abused.

By the time they reached the NWSL, many could not recognize the conduct as abusive, as sexist and degrading remarks are normalized for female players at the youth level. The report says that sexual relationships between players and coaches had been normalized, and that Riley, Dames and Holly are all married to players.

They either minimized the reports or the players wanted to kill the NWSL by saying the coach had been put in a different position. Players were told to be thankful to have the chance to play professional soccer.

The majority of the time investigations were focused on whether a coach's conduct was unlawful, rather than whether it was abusive or even appropriate for a coach of women athletes. Teams that failed to adequately or accurately disclose the reasons for a coach's separation were allowed to keep their jobs.

The risk of legal exposure to litigation by coaches and the risk of drawing negative attention to the team or League appear to have been prioritized by teams.


The former NWSL commissioner talks about her response to the allegations. On October 4th at 7pm, E60: Truth Be Told will be airing.

So what comes next? And what kind of disciplinary measures can be expected?

Yates' report doesn't mean the end of investigations. Two coaches have been suspended this season due to a joint investigation by the league and the players association. It's not clear when the investigation will be finished, but that should prompt policy changes.

Yates suggested actions from U.S. Soccer. Those are included.

• Changing coaching licenses from a one-time diploma to an accreditation program that requires regular recertification and requires coaches to disclose new complaints of misconduct • Enforcing existing requirements for licenses required by NWSL coaches • Requiring the NWSL conduct annual training on abuse, sexual misconduct, harassment and retaliation • Revoking the licenses of anyone who commits misconduct or fails to act on misconduct • Requiring the NWSL conduct swift investigations into abuse and bar teams from investigating themselves and that all owners, staff and players cooperate with such investigations • Requiring the NWSL to conduct player surveys and maintain a confidential reporting line for allegations of abuse

• Enforcing its Professional League Standards and imposing meaningful penalties on leagues, like the NWSL, that fail to meet such standards