U.S. Soccer Announces Safety Taskforce in Response to Investigation

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U.S. Soccer on Thursday announced the members and immediate priorities  for the federation’s new Participant Safety Taskforce.  

According to a news release, the taskforce will be led by chair Mana Shim and was created following the release of Sally Q. Yates’ independent investigation into allegations of past abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women's professional soccer.

The Taskforce is charged with coordinating and collaborating on conduct-related policies  and procedures from the youth level all the way up to professional leagues and senior national teams. While the new Yates Implementation Committee of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, led by Danielle Slaton, focuses on quickly and effectively implementing the recommendations in the Yates report, the taskforce will push beyond those recommendations to drive change across the entire soccer ecosystem.  

Former U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx and Maryland State Youth Soccer Association Executive Director Greg Smith will join Shim in the leadership of the taskforce. The group’s membership includes current and former players from the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams and  the U.S. Extended National Teams, as well as players from the NWSL, including the President of the  NWSLPA and the NWSL’s current director of Strategy. They will be joined by experts in the fields of human resources, law, auditing and compliance, and player safety processes from various levels of the  sport and other governing bodies such as UEFA and FIFA. 

“I am excited to work alongside these athletes, experts, medical professionals and advocates, who I know  share my passion for action and change,” said Shim. “There is much to do, but I am confident we have a team with a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to change the culture in soccer from the ground  up. Together, we will be defining new standards, policies, reporting systems and educational programs  with the goal of eradicating abuse altogether from our sport.” 

The taskforce will take an athlete-focused approach, supported by subject matter experts, to thoroughly  evaluate critical issues and potential solutions to the systemic problems described in the Yates report, as  well as any additional issues raised via the impending NWSL/NWSLPA investigation and any concerns or  proposals raised by Taskforce members directly. 

The group expects to begin by focusing on topics such as governance, standards and policy, education  and reporting and response. From this starting point, the taskforce will work to ideate and identify  additional actions, beyond the Yates recommendations, that leaders at all levels of soccer can take to  promote a safe and respectful environment throughout the entire soccer ecosystem.  

The taskforce will immediately work to address the following priorities in the first quarter of 2023: 

• Developing an action plan to support the efforts of the Yates Implementation Committee of the Board of Directors to implement the Yates recommendations at all U.S. Soccer member organizations, including youth clubs, other professional leagues and grassroots organizations,  among others;  

• Gathering best practices and expertise across sports regarding safeguarding policies, officer  positions, education and training; 

• Identifying the biggest concerns regarding the risks around relationships with significant power  imbalances (such as player-coach); and 

• Developing educational resources focused on identifying inappropriate behavior and reporting  concerns that can be distributed across the soccer ecosystem. 

Launching the taskforce is one of several steps U.S. Soccer is taking in response to the Yates investigation’s findings. U.S. Soccer also immediately established the Yates Implementation Committee,  began working to establish a new national Office of Participant Safety, published soccer records from SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database on the Participant Safety Hub on the U.S. Soccer website, and mandated the adoption of a uniform minimum standard for background checks for all U.S. Soccer members. The taskforce will work closely with the Yates Implementation Committee and the Office of  Participant Safety to ensure clear communications and a constant feedback loop between the three  entities. 

“U.S. Soccer is deeply appreciative of the time and dedication of all members of the taskforce – especially Mana, Shannon and Greg for their commitment to leading the important work ahead,” said U.S. Soccer  CEO and Secretary General JT Batson. “Our sport must rebuild a culture across all levels of the game so  that everyone involved feels safe, welcomed and supported. I am confident that the entire soccer  community will benefit from the unique perspectives and expertise of each member of the Taskforce as  we strive to create long-lasting change.” 

U.S. Soccer states that it is committed to ongoing transparency and will continue to keep players, U.S. Soccer  membership and the public regularly updated on the progress of the Taskforce and the Yates  Implementation Committee. Additional information can be found in the Participant Safety Hub on U.S. Soccer’s website.  

Participant Safety Taskforce Membership Roster:  

Taskforce Chair  

Mana Shim, Former NWSL player 

Taskforce Vice Chairs  

Shannon Boxx, Former USWNT / NWSL player 

Greg Smith, Executive Director, Maryland State Youth Soccer Association 

Taskforce Members  

Margueritte Aozasa, Head Coach, UCLA women’s soccer 

Nicole Arsenault, Technical Lead, Idaho Youth Soccer 

Jessica Bartley, USOPC Director of Mental Health Services and former NCAA athlete Paul Burke, Shareholder & General Counsel, Ray Quinney & Nebeker and Former President, Utah Youth  Soccer 

Erin Chastain, Head Coach, University of Minnesota women’s soccer 

Margie Close, AYSO Secretary 

Anastasia Danias, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Major League Soccer Tierna Davidson, USWNT / NWSL player 

Gloria Faber, Executive Director, USYS and New Mexico Youth Soccer  

AD Franch, USWNT / NWSL player 

Lesle Gallimore, Girls Academy Commissioner and former USSF YNT coach 

Naomi Girma, USWNT / NWSL player 

Lauren Holiday, Former USWNT / NWSL player 

Carlin Hudson, Former NWSL player and current NWSL Director of Strategy 

Tori Huster, NWSL player and President, NWSLPA 

Greg Hutton, COO, US Club Soccer 

Dr. Cynthia Labella, Lurie Children’s Medical Director, Institute of Sports Medicine Ben Lindau, U.S. Men’s Para National Team player 

Alex Morgan, USWNT / NWSL player 

Kim Oberle, Former FIFA referee and current national referee coach  

Scott Oliaro, UNC Associate Director of Sports Medicine 

Jason Sacks, President, Positive Coaching Alliance  

Dr. Amy Saltzman, Childhood abuse educator and Founder, “Spot a Spider” 

Tony Sanneh, Former USMNT / MLS player  

Kwame Ofori Attah Sarkodie, DO, Former YNT captain, current Internal Medicine Hospitalist and Co founder of soccer clinic 

Shonna Schroedl, USASA Adult Council  

Renee Towles, Sr. Director of Safeguarding, USL 

Kate Ward, U.S. Deaf Soccer WNT player 

Yael Averbuch West, Former USWNT player and current General Manager, NJ/NY Gotham FC Corey Woolfolk, Former MLS player, Youth coach and HR executive 

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