Canada coach Bev Priestman says a report detailing emotional abuse and sexual misconduct in the U.S.-based National Women's Soccer League is "really disappointing."
And she says what comes next is key.
"There's no place for it in our sport, never mind in society," Priestman said Wednesday from Spain where the Canadian women play Argentina in an international friendly Thursday. "The most important thing is that we create an environment where our players feel safe. And it's a shame that that hasn't happened. The important thing is what's put in place to make sure it never happens again.
"My thoughts, the team's thoughts are all with those affected by it."
An independent investigation into the scandals in the NWSL last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players.
U.S. Soccer commissioned the investigation by former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spaulding after former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim came forward with allegations of harassment and sexual coercion dating back a decade involving former coach Paul Riley.
Riley, who denied the allegations, was quickly fired as head coach of the North Carolina Courage, and NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down.
Five of the 10 head coaches in the NWSL last season either were fired or stepped down amid allegations of misconduct.
"The verbal and emotional abuse players describe in the NWSL is not merely 'tough' coaching. And the players affected are not shrinking violets. They are among the best athletes in the world," Yates wrote.
On Wednesday, the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC announced that president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub had been "relieved of their duties with both clubs, effective today."
Former Canadian international goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc will lead the Thorns soccer operations in her role as GM. The Thorns, home to Canada captain Christine Sinclair, are coached by former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson.
Canadian international Jenna Hellstrom, a former Washington Spirit player who is now with Sweden's KIF Orebro, took to Twitter after the report came out.
"It still shocks me that this behaviour was found at the professional level! Dreams were shattered by this behaviour," wrote Hellstrom, who is not in the current Canadian camp.
More than 200 people were interviewed by investigators in the Yates report. Some two dozen entities and individuals provided documents. U.S. Soccer also provided documents and the firm reviewed 89,000 deemed likely to be relevant.
With files from The Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022