It’s the same story just a different sport, but the U.S. women’s national team is not having it.
It’s been more than two decades since Megan Cnota told police how National Women’s Soccer League coach Rory Dames made demeaning sexual jokes at her when she was a minor.
“We tried to make it come to light 25 years ago,” Cnota said, “and nobody believed those teenagers,” Cnota said to The Washington Post.
In 1998, a police officer in Arlington Heights, Ill. led an investigation into Dames’ behavior towards his players. One of Cnota’s teammates told police how Dames had inappropriately touched her upper thigh. Other players complained about his inappropriate sexual comments which were outlined in a documented police report. Dames talked about foreplay, blowjobs and made references to male sexual climaxing, calling it “snowing.”
The investigation was closed after the players decided not to file a formal complaint and Dames was allowed to keep coaching.
Now, the U.S. women’s national team is calling out the U.S. Soccer Federation for failing to take action against the misconduct. Many of the players including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn wrote a letter to the federation’s president Cindy Parlow Cone and former president Carlos Cordeiro.
The USWNT players alleged the federation “failed to do the bare minimum — to keep us and the young girls who play in the youth leagues safe.” The letter was written in the wake of abuse allegations that were made last year. Dames is one of several coaches that have been accused of sexual, verbal or emotional abuse.
Last year, former Washington Spirit Coach Richie Burke was fired after claims of verbal and emotional abuse. North Carolina Courage Coach Paul Riley was also fired after allegations of sexual coercion. The accusations against Riley prompted an investigation led by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates.
U.S. Soccer did not take action against coaches who faced allegations during the investigation including Dames. Even with public accusations of verbal and emotional abuse, Dames was allowed to keep his coaching license. It was only suspended after the Post contacted the federation about sexual misconduct allegations raised by former youth players in January.
The suspension is only one step towards cleansing women’s soccer of inappropriate conduct towards its athletes. In the letter, the players still had questions for president Cone including where the results of the investigation are. Most importantly they want to know what necessary steps will be taken to make soccer safe for young girls and women in the USSF and NWSL.
“We will not stop fighting until we can ensure that this sport is safe for ourselves, for our daughters, and for every little girl who cheers us on and dreams of one day playing the sport we all love,” they said.