Women's Football

Cindy Parlow Cone 'heartbroken' over NWSL allegations of abuse and misconduct

Lizzy Becherano
United States Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone committed to NWSL investigation after allegations
United States Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone committed to NWSL investigation after allegations / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone admits she is “heartbroken” over the allegations of abusive  behavior and sexual misconduct in the National Women's Soccer League, committing full efforts from her organization to investigate the conduct. 

Cone is referring to the revelations made by former NWSL players Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly of former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley’s sexual coercion and bullying. He has now been fired from his position and is no longer associated with the NWSL. 

Another report exposed former Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke, who has now been banned from the NWSL after being found guilty of verbal and emotional abuse towards players.

To combat any future incidents, Parlow Cone appointed U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Sally Yates, to lead an independent investigation in light of the allegations revealed by The Athletic - outlining there will be "full autonomy, access and the necessary resources" to conduct an extensive examination.

“Like all of you, I am saddened and angered by these reports. As a former player and a current youth soccer coach, there is no responsibility that I take more seriously than ensuring soccer players in this country are safe and respected both on and off the field," Parlow Cone said.

"I cannot overstate how heartbroken I am for anyone who has ever been a victim of abusive behavior or sexual misconduct in our sport.

"When I took on the role of president of U.S. Soccer in 2020, our new leadership team understood that despite the challenges we faced, at its core, our mission is to create a safe space for athletes who love this sport to learn, grow and compete. That's why U.S. Soccer is committed to stepping up to lead the change on this issue.

"That means doing everything we can to fully investigate the abhorrent conduct reported and taking a hard look at the entire soccer ecosystem in this country -- including ourselves -- to gain a full understanding of the systemic changes that should be made to prevent anything like this from happening again."

The investigation being conducted by the USSF is one of three running concurrently - the NWSL and FIFA are also engaged in similar action - and the organization assured fans the situation will be dealt with seriousness and caution.

"The past few weeks have been incredibly painful, and I have no doubt the months ahead will also be challenging as we continue to reconcile and reflect on what took place. I want to once again commit to you that U.S. Soccer is approaching this process with humility, transparency and a desire for accountability and meaningful change.”