U.S. National Soccer Team Urges Congress to Reform SafeSport Amid Abuse Concerns
In a compelling plea for reform, members of the United States national soccer team have voiced their concerns about the inadequate handling of abuse claims by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. As they gear up for their pursuit of a fifth World Cup title, the players are urging Congress to take action and reshape the organization's operations.
In a letter addressed to House members, all 23 athletes on the U.S. women's World Cup squad put their signatures in support of the appeal. This appeal follows a series of revelations exposing widespread abuse within women's soccer in the United States.
Established in 2017, SafeSport is an independent non-profit organization that Congress tasked with addressing and preventing abuse within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement. While the players acknowledge its noble intentions, they firmly believe that the organization is currently falling short of achieving its objectives.
In their letter, delivered by the U.S. Soccer's Athletes' Council, the players emphasized the significance of SafeSport as the sole formal mechanism to keep wrongdoers out of their sport. They express their reliance on it as they strive to implement necessary reforms to safeguard athletes.
Despite these good intentions, the players highlight the "deep flaws" within SafeSport's processes, a concern shared by current and former members of both the men's and women's national teams.
This call for reform comes in the wake of an independent investigation that uncovered abuse and sexual misconduct within multiple teams in the top-tier National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). The investigation also exposed a failure on the part of U.S. Soccer, the sport's national governing body, to implement "basic measures" to protect players.
The players express their empathy with those brave women who have spoken out against abuse and recount how some of them see reflections of their own painful experiences in the investigation's report. While U.S. Soccer and the NWSL have taken steps towards reforming the sport, they acknowledge that true change can only be achieved with the support and intervention of Congress.
Among the specific concerns outlined in the letter is the appeals and arbitration process, which the players claim can be "damaging and retraumatizing for victims of abuse." They urge members of Congress to take legislative action to overhaul SafeSport's processes and create a safer environment for athletes.
The timing of this appeal is significant, as the U.S. women's team embarks on their quest for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title in Auckland. It comes just days after the team was honored with the ESPYs Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, recognizing their relentless fight for equal pay.
In conclusion, the U.S. national soccer team players' letter is a sincere and urgent call to Congress to address the shortcomings of SafeSport and implement necessary reforms to protect athletes and ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all those involved in the sport.