In November, Rory Dames attempted to quietly quit the NWSL with a press release hours before a Washington Post The story describes years of alleged player abuse while coaching the Chicago Red Stars. The allegations came from NWSL stars like Christen Press, one of the most recognizable players in league history.
On Tuesday, Molly Hensley-Clancy wrote another story about Dames alleging decades of abuse. Although the allegations mostly come from players you’ve never heard of, they’re even more damning, including sexual coercion and physical assault. The charges highlight just how widespread and systemic abuse is in women’s football, from the sport’s highest levels to the youth ranks.
The Post obtained a 1998 police report in which a teenage girl said she wanted to protect her Checkers teammates.In 2018, Christen Press told US Soccer the same. Both times, Dames kept her job. In the decades that followed, he coached hundreds of players.https://t.co/q4yldlHdTd
— Molly Hensley-Clancy (@mollyhc) February 8, 2022
I admit that when I saw Hensley-Clancy write another article about allegations of sexual misconduct in women’s football, I initially didn’t want to know more. There has been so much abuse reported in sport over the past six months that it is difficult to dig deeper into the well of empathy, in the same way that the repeated mass shootings in the United States have not. attract more public attention.
It is for this exact reason that we must not look away now. Children are abused; if nothing is done, children will continue to be abused.
The amount of abuse – some alleged, some confirmed, some still silent – in women’s football that has come to light since August is staggering. NWSL head coaches Craig Harrington, Farid Benstiti, Richie Burke, Christie Holly, Paul Riley and Rory Dames have all left the league under allegations of abuse, from verbal harassment to sexual coercion. These men, if the allegations are true, make Kurt Zouma look like a saint.
Charges by Dames first reported in November indicated that he controlled, berated and humiliated players. USWNT superstar Christen Press first raised concerns about Dames in 2014 and again in 2018, but each time he was cleared to continue coaching in both the NWSL and the ranks of youth football.
Tuesday Washington Post Reports show the problems with Dames date back to 1998, when a police report was filed after a young player alleged Dames touched her inappropriately. The story also details how Dames allegedly groomed a young player to have sex with him at the age of 18, when she was still playing for her club.
the To post reported that 14 former youth players said Dames verbally and emotionally abused them as teenagers, leaving a lot of lasting psychological damage. Alleged abuse included body shaming (big ass, big fuck, big pussy), public humiliation and name calling (pussy, fucking stupid, retarded). The 1998 police report showed Dames was accused of pinching girls who refused to give him a massage and punching a boy in the stomach.
Dames berated players during practices and on the sidelines during matches. It was so serious that the former player who said she was forced to sleep with him blamed the parents for not intervening when they heard such verbal abuse.
“Each parent – none of them knew about the sexual abuse, but all the parents knew and had heard Rory being violent in practice or at a game, and they turned a blind eye,” said the player. “They all decided it was OK, it was a means to an end. People were desperate to get their kids on those teams.
I suggest reading all of Hensley-Clancy’s excellent reporting here. Dames, through a lawyer, denied the charges.
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What I would like to point out is how this is another example of systemic abuse in women’s soccer in the United States (to be fair, it’s not just a problem in the United States – Last Tuesday, former Canada U-20 women’s national team coach Bob Birarda pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and one count of touching a youth for sexual purposes.) As did when the MeToo movement swept the world, women’s football had its own similar movement. And much like the MeToo movement, the abuse is far more widespread than is publicly known.
What is most striking about the recent accusations against Riley (sexual coercion), Burke (verbal abuse) and Dames (a bit of both) is how important the three men were in youth football before becoming NWSL coaches. the To post The article details how the alleged abuse of Dames happened before he even reached professional play.
Time and again, men rise through the ranks of the American youth system to become coaches of major professional women’s soccer teams. If these men are the best of the best, what kind of coaches currently run the youth teams? I don’t even want to imagine. These men get power and then abuse it. They control everything about the clubs, including the social lives of players and collegiate hopefuls.
Dames, owner of the Eclipse Select club, refused to have an assistant coach so he could micromanage everything. He asked every college coach who wanted to sign one of his players to go through him, so he could dangle that carrot in front of the players and deny them the opportunity if they disobeyed. If players wanted to succeed in the sport, they had to do whatever they could to appease it, and Dames took advantage of that.
“I could never fully explain the power that (Checkers) had over everyone, including adults,” said former youth player Lauren Hall. To post. “(I thought) ‘Why, why did we let this happen?’ But Chicago’s football monopoly, our belief that his connection to academia was the only connection we’d have — he used all of that to get away with doing and saying whatever he wanted to us.
It’s a story that’s been repeated over and over again in elite women’s soccer in the United States, much like American gymnastics. That’s not to say that every female soccer player in the country has a story of abuse to tell, but I guarantee it’s more common than you might think.
And after? Former Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates is currently investigating allegations of abuse in the NWSL (including Dames), which is currently both a blessing and a curse. Yates’ investigation is important and necessary, but currently American football clubs and the NWSL are hiding behind the investigation for not commenting on current abuse scandals.
The Red Stars were complicit in allowing the Ladies to sneak out of the league in November. The press release at the time of his resignation was clearly aware of the coming storm and decided to play it down instead of condemning the alleged abuses. Red Stars co-owner Sarah Spain said on Twitter that majority owner Arnim Whisler, who himself has remained silent on the matter, told him not to talk about the story.
The majority owner apparently chose not to. Minority owners were told we weren’t allowed to talk about it. (We have and continue to require access to agreements to which we are allegedly indebted but which have not been shown.)
The Yates investigation is just an investigation. The alleged abuses have already been going on for years; While bringing appalling behavior to light is a good first step, US Soccer, the NWSL and elite youth soccer clubs across the country must do more to protect players. Nobody deserves to be called a “fat pussy” at the age of 12.
These days, with yet another mass shooting in the United States, Americans sigh too often and move on – there is no more empathy after decades of horror. Gun lobbyists are blocking Congress from taking meaningful action on gun control and nothing changes until the next mass shooting and the cycle repeats itself.
The powers that be in football in the United States cannot allow abuse in women’s sport to be the next mass shooting. We cannot devote our empathy to one abuse scandal, numb the next one, and refuse to engage with an ongoing issue. We will continue to report on every accusation, because these stories must be heard, and those who committed or allowed abuses to be committed must be held accountable.