US Soccer investigation into NWSL misconduct nearing end

U.S. Soccer says an investigation into alleged abuse and misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League is expected to be completed by early next month.

The investigation, led by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, was initiated last fall after North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was accused of sexual harassment and coercion by two former players.

Riley was fired and league Commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down in the wake of the players’ claims. U.S. Soccer and the NWSL and its players association announced separate investigations.

U.S. Soccer issued a brief statement on the status of its probe Monday: “Last October, U.S. Soccer retained Sally Q. Yates of King & Spalding LLP to lead an independent investigation into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer. That investigation is nearing its conclusion. U.S. Soccer will publish the full report by early October, following the completion of the investigation.”

Riley was among five NWSL coaches who were either dismissed or stepped down last season amid claims of inappropriate behavior.

In Riley’s case, the alleged misconduct stretched back more than 10 years, and encompassed his time with the Portland Thorns in 2014-15. The league was informed about the allegations, but the Thorns did not make them public. Riley went on to coach elsewhere in the league.

U.S. Soccer said at the time it launched the investigation that Yates would have autonomy in her inquiry.

“The scope of our investigation is broad,” Yates said in a statement in February. “We are investigating not only allegations of misconduct, but also the factors that may have contributed to, perpetuated, or concealed abuse. Our mandate is to find the truth and make recommendations to ensure that going forward, players are treated respectfully, wrongdoing is uncovered and addressed, and players are protected from harassment or retaliation.”

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