Los Angeles, – Two U.S. team owners have decided to step aside after an investigative report found female players experienced sexual harassment from their trainers.
Portland Thorns’ owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement on Wednesday that he was removing himself from the team’s decision-making effective immediately.
Paulson and at least two team executives were accused in the report commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation of hiding their knowledge of abuse by a former Thorns coach, among other things.
Thorns said top executives Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub will also step aside.
“I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry,” he said in the statement.
Shortly after the announcement, Arnim Whisler, the owner of the Chicago Red Stars, said he would step away from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) board of governors.
Whisler promised to hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago
In the report, Whisler was accused of dismissing complaints about abusive behaviour within the team.
“I am so deeply sorry for what our players experienced during their time spent in Chicago,” he said in a statement.
U.S. women’s team captain Becky Sauerbrunn said ahead of a game against England on Friday that any official found to have failed to protect players “should be gone.”
“You have failed in your stewardship,” she said.
The more than 150-page report published on Monday detailed numerous examples of inappropriate advances and emotional and physical abuse by coaches.
The independent commission that carried out the probe described the abuse and misconduct in the league as “systemic”.
It said the abuse was deeply rooted in U.S. women’s football, including its youth leagues. (dpa/NAN)