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'What the f*ck is going on?' - USWNT star Rapinoe opens up on 'horrifying' Yates report ahead of England Wembley clash

11:07 PM SGT 6/10/22
Megan Rapinoe NWSL composite
Megan Rapinoe has opened up on how players are coping with the "horrifying" report of abuse in U.S. women's soccer that was released on Monday.
  • Report said organisations 'failed' to protect players
  • Rapinoe explains 'difficult' time for team
  • England to show solidarity with USWNT on Friday

WHAT HAPPENED? An investigation led by former attorney general Sally Yates concluded that the NWSL, the top women's league in the States, and U.S. Soccer failed to protect players from sexual and emotional harassment.

Findings detailed the investigation into Paul Riley, the former Portland Thorns coach who was accused of sexual harassment and coercion; Rory Dames, the ex-coach of the Chicago Red Stars who faced allegations of misconduct and grooming; and Christy Holly, who was fired by Racing Louisville 'with cause', also accused of sexual coercion and harassment.

The report also discovered complaints of verbal and emotional abuse against former head coach of the Washington Spirit, Richie Burke, went back as far as 2015. Burke was hired by the Spirit in 2019 and fired in September 2021.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It's horrifying. Even when you know [about] it, it's just horrifying over and over to read," Rapinoe said, speaking in the U.S. women's national team's pre-match press conference on Thursday, ahead of Friday's game against England.

"It's been difficult for the players. Some of those players play in those clubs, have been coached by those coaches, likely have been abused in one form or another by some of the coaches or in some of those environments or different environments, youth environments, whatever it may be.

"It can definitely be re-triggering or re-traumatising just to have to deal with that on such an incredible occasion to be here at Wembley and be able to participate in this game, which is so exciting. The juxtaposition is just ridiculous.

"I think Becky [Sauerbrunn, USWNT captain] said yesterday, we're angry and exhausted and together and unified.

"We've had to shoulder a lot on this team. I think we have a lot of experience, particularly with the older group, whether it was the lawsuit or equal pay, or kneeling or whatever it may be.

"Older players can help shield and shoulder a lot of whether it's media attention or just kind of like, what we do, how to act. Probably as a younger player, you're like, 'What the f*ck is going on? How do I even deal with this?' They can always look to us just as we could always look to our older players.

"I think it's just us kind of understanding the vibe of the group and making sure that we're checking in on everybody but also understanding we're really excited to play. I think that's a nice distraction. This is an incredible game, an incredible moment, that actually, I think, sits kind of nicely with this horrific thing."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: There are still more investigations into violations of the NWSL's anti-harassment policy pending, too. Houston Dash head coach James Clarkson was suspended in April, but no new details have emerged on that case yet.

Amanda Cromwell and Sam Greene, coaches at the Orlando Pride, were placed on temporary leave back in June, while the Spirit fired head coach Kris Ward in August following "an incident with players at training".

AND WHAT'S MORE: The USWNT will face European champions England on Friday at a sold-out Wembley and the hosts are planning a gesture to show solidarity with their peers.

“We’re in contact with the U.S. team and some of the players," Lionesses forward Beth Mead said on Thursday. "We’re working on something to show our support for them. Nothing has been finalised yet but we will be doing something.”

"It means everything," Rapinoe said, asked about England's support. "I think our women's national team gets a lot of attention globally for things off the field but it's all of us. I think in so many ways - even just us watching their Euros run, you couldn't help but want them to bring it home.

"I think there's general support around the world for all of our different federations and teams. Obviously, to have this happen in our country, in our league, and to be able to bring that here in a very special moment for for England, playing Wembley, sold out, the whole deal, to have them acknowledge what we're going through and I think, as Lucy [Bronze] said, there's no report that came out here, but I'm sure that there could be one, just as there could be one in likely every single country, which is a really sad reality."