U.S. Soccer Response to Letter from Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Members of Congress
November 1, 2022
The Honorable Deborah Ross
U.S. House of Representatives
1208 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congresswoman Ross:
Thank you for writing to me about the findings and recommendations of Sally Q. Yates’ independent investigation into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer. As a former player, as a coach, as the president of soccer’s national governing body, I am heartbroken by the abuse described in the report, which is entirely inexcusable and has no place in soccer, on or off the field. I would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to talk about the immediate and comprehensive actions we at U.S. Soccer are taking to address the report’s findings and work with leaders across the soccer ecosystem to create the kind of change needed to ensure everyone who participates in soccer is safe.
As we have said from the time we hired Sally Yates and her team at King & Spalding in 2021, we are committed to full transparency and meaningful change. This is why we released the report in its entirety and immediately shared our plan to address its recommendations with our membership and other key stakeholders, including your office and others in Congress. This includes the following actions:
- U.S. Soccer immediately 1) began work to establish a new national Office of Participant Safety, 2) published soccer records from SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database on the Participant Safety Hub on the U.S. Soccer website, and 3) mandated the adoption of a uniform minimum standard for background checks for all U.S. Soccer members.
- The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors immediately established the Yates Implementation Committee to develop a plan to act on the report’s remaining recommendations as thoroughly and effectively as possible. That group will share its plan publicly by Jan. 31, 2023, and we will certainly share that plan with you and would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss it in detail.
- U.S. Soccer immediately created a new Participant Safety Taskforce that is led by former NWSL player Mana Shim and made up of leaders across all levels of soccer. This week, U.S. Soccer will announce the Taskforce’s full membership and additional details about its mission and timeline for progress. This Taskforce will coordinate efforts to implement the report’s recommendations across the soccer ecosystem and explore actions that can be taken above and beyond the report’s recommendations, from the youth level all the way up to professional leagues and senior national teams.
These actions build on many of the steps we have already taken over the last few years to detect, prevent and address various forms of abuse and misconduct. We know that despite the steps we have taken, and the next steps described here, we have much more work to do to rebuild a culture in which everyone feels safe, welcomed and supported.
We welcome all efforts to understand the factors that led to the abuse reported in women’s professional soccer and to identify meaningful steps to prevent something like this from happening again, including the important efforts of the NWSL and NWSLPA. We have been meeting regularly with leaders of the NWSL and NWSLPA on these important issues, and we will continue to support and cooperate with their ongoing investigation as we all seek to enact systemic change across our game.
We are grateful to Sally Yates and her team for their thorough work, and I am deeply appreciative of all the players who courageously came forward to share their personal and often painful stories. I look forward to working with you to create the kind of change needed to protect our athletes and improve the sport we all love.
Cindy Parlow Cone
U.S. Soccer President