US Soccer Appoints Investigator as It Becomes Latest Sport Caught Up in #MeToo Scandal


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Football – or soccer – is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, especially among women and girls. The US won the women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019 and Megan Rapinoe became their biggest star.

The US Soccer Federation has hired a former federal prosecutor, Sally Yates, to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in the women’s professional game.

On 30 September, North Carolina Courage, who play in the National Women’s Soccer League, fired their Liverpool-born head coach Paul Riley for “very serious allegations of misconduct”.

Riley, 58, was sacked after the sports website The Athletic claimed there were allegations of wide-ranging sexual misconduct by him dating back to 2010 and stemming from a number of different US clubs.

The Englishman was the second NWSL coach to be fired in a week, following Washington Spirit’s decision to terminate the contract of coach Richie Burke after allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.

Megan Rapinoe, the biggest star in the World Cup-winning women’s team, tweeted after Riley was sacked: “Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll”.

US Soccer said Yates, a former US prosecutor and deputy attorney general, had “extensive experience conducting complex and highly sensitive investigations.”

Last week, the Lisa Baird resigned as commissioner of the NWSL after being accused of dragging her heels over the allegations.

According to US Soccer, Yates would “be given full autonomy, access and the necessary resources to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead.”

The Athletic claimed two North Carolina players, Sinead Farrelly and Meleana Shim, had accused Riley of inappropriate behaviour.

Farrelly accused him of “coercing” her into having sex in a hotel room while he was her coach at the Philadelphia Independence.

In a statement to The Athletic, Riley denied any wrongdoing and said: “I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players”.

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