The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, February 1, 2021
Taking a look at abuse — sexual, physical and emotional — in soccer and what is being done on an international level — Comments from FIFA's Joyce Cook — Woso links galore.
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A bit of breaking news this morning with the announcement of the 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup. The plan is for the bulk of the players to report on Feb. 8, with the England-based players arriving on Feb. 13.
Additionally, Vlatko Andonovski included three training players, Emily Fox, Mallory Pugh and Jaelin Howell. And Alex Morgan is back after her bout with COVID-19.
Here’s the roster by position, with club, caps and goals
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 4), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 65)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 63/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 27/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 107/24), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 133/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 4/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 179/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 48/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 105/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 88/20), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 48/13), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnaise, FRA; 2/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 18/3), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 70/21)
FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 296/123), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 170/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 139/58), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 170/54), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 31/10)
Training Players: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 4/0), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 1/0), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 63/18).
Obviously, I’ll be diving into the SheBelieves camp and roster more going forward.
But for this Soccer Monday I wanted to talk about a story that went under the radar a bit last week in the midst of Naomi Osaka’s announcement that she’s investing in the North Carolina Courage, was that FIFA announced a program to educate its 211 member federations about abuse and harassment.
Before we go further, please note that some of the allegations that I’ve provided links here that detail abuse allegations, some of which are very disturbing. Please proceed carefully, especially if you’ve experienced trauma.
This is an issue that deserves must more attention globally. And I appreciate FIFA’s move, which I wrote about here for The Associated Press.
From the story of Danielle Foxhoven’s physical and emotional abuse encountered when she played in Russia (detailed in Gwendolyn Oxenham’s excellent book Under the Lights and In the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer) to the bravery of Ciara McCormack, who wrote in her blog about the abuse endured with the Vancouver Whitecaps women. Former coach Bob Birarda was charged in December with six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault, and one count of child luring.
There’s also the disturbing case of sexual, physical and mental abuse of women’s players within the Afghan soccer federation. Suzanne Wrack broke details of the abuse in The Guardian in 2018. Khalida Popal and coach Kelly Lindsey demanded FIFA take action. The resulting investigation led to a lifetime ban for former federation president Keramuudin Karim and other measures.
It gets worse. A few weeks ago FIFA released details of its investigation into abuse of women and girls by Haiti’s federation president. Yves Jean-Bart was banned for life late last year. You can read about it in AP’s story here.
The FIFA Guardians program was launched after the Women’s World Cup in 2019. at the time, FIFA pledged that its federations would be trained to trained to “help prevent any risk of harm to children in football, and to appropriately respond if concerns arise.” It released a “toolkit” for federations to follow, which you can see here.
The diploma program announced last week is the next step in this program. It encourages federations to dedicate a safeguarding officer, as well as complete the two-year program.
I spoke to Mary Harvey, the former USWNT goalkeeper who is now CEO for the Centre for Sports and Human Rights. The center hosted a webinar on athlete abuse last October. I totally recommend it if you have a chance.
In our conversation, Harvey said her organization not only advocates for best practices, but also steps in to help women and children who are being abused. Harvey said that it’s a delicate process. Often the abusers are in positions of power, and retaliation is a concern. In the Afghanistan case, the survivors — and their families — were in very real danger.
Another concern is re-traumatizing the survivor by having them recount the abuse.
Harvey praised FIFA for making the basics of the course open to all, via the Open University. Soccer’s international governing body also has invited other sports federations to use the program — a good thing!
She also suggested that what is needed is an international organization dedicated to the athlete safety from abuse, much like SafeSport here in the United States.
My one criticism is that I wish it were mandatory for federations to take part. Make FIFA Forward funding dependent on participation for the program. So far, 160 of FIFA’s 211 federations have signed up for the intensive diploma program. Making it mandatory would ensure FULL participation.
FIFA, which normally lets these announcements stand on their own, took the welcomed step of making Joyce Cook, FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer, available to the media. You can read some excerpts below.
This is obviously an issue that is of great concern in soccer, and I applaud any efforts to educate all of those involved in coaching and guiding players.
On to the links!
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Nice story here from the Washington Post’s Steven Goff about Trinity Rodman joining her new team, with a little help from Briana Scurry.
Meg Linehan and her colleagues at The Athletic broke this story about Jill Ellis heading to the Sacramento Republic.
Seth Vertelney looks at whether the national anthem will divide the national team. Well done from Goal.com.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tannenwald broke an interesting story about a second-tier women’s soccer league, due to launch in 2022.
The Athletic’s Katie Whyatt wrote a fun story on soccer players with strange jobs.
It appears that Tobin Heath is out for 3 months with an ankle injury, from Yahoo Sports. That means no SheBelieves Cup.
A soccer team in Wisconsin named its team cow (?) after Rose Lavelle.
Kristen Edmonds is headed to the Kansas City team.
Will they or won’t they? Dzsenifer Marozsán and Sarah Bouhaddi may be headed to OL Reign. Ride of the Valkyries’ Jacob Cristobal and Steve Voght give it a look.
The Equalizer’s Blair Newman takes a look at Leah Galton.
Emily Menges was among the first players I included in the IX, way back when. So I’m happy she’s been signed to a new 3-year-deal with the Thorns.
Amelia Lopez wrote this nice story on Alison Gonzalez and Mexico’s national team.
Argentina has replaced Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. Anyone have any idea when the last time this team played? Was it the World Cup?
Tweet of the Week
Pia’s going to be with Brazil through Australia 2023:
Oh and Rose Cowbell!
Five at The IX: FIFA’s Joyce Cook talks about the new safeguarding program
Photo courtesy of FIFA.
Here are some of the comments made by FIFA Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer, Joyce Cook, about FIFA’s new diploma program and the organization’s commitment to making sure soccer is free from abuse.
Cook: “One of my responsibilities includes child protection and safeguarding. And I think you’re already familiar with the work we have been doing. But just a very brief recap, and a huge thank you. I hope in our exchange today, you’ll share my passion of the importance of promoting this program and the reasons why.
So we were late to the table, like other sports, and we’ve said that, and I always want to start with that. We should have been doing something about safeguarding much sooner in all sports, in fact, in wider society as well. But we were, and we have been working intensively to put that right. We launched FIFA Guardians, which is, of course, the program of safeguarding at FIFA, tool kit for our member associations directly after the Women’s World Cup in France. So in 2019. We also appointed at the beginning of that year our first ever safeguarding officer, Kathryn Leslie, who came with a vast amount of experience in this area and came to help us to really develop a full program so we could, as a smartly and as effectively as possible, begin to build capacity around the world within football in regards to having safeguarding officers and ensuring we have proper preventative measures in place so that children, women, vulnerable adults would be able to play in a safe space, and their well-being was first and foremost. And, of course, in many parts of football that was happening already.
But as we know very well, the cases of abuse, both inside sports and outside sports schools are prevalent. And sports lends itself as a place for a predator to have access, if we’re not careful to children in particular, but also to vulnerable adults and women. That means that our first important step is to make sure that we put preventative measures in place. We also realized that we needed to have proper event safeguarding. So I’m really pleased to say now we have a dedicated department with three extremely experienced persons who are responsible for safeguarding. I think that many of you familiar with Gloria Viseras, who is a very outspoken and publicly acknowledged survivor of abuse and support herself. So she comes with real depth of experience in this regard, having worked in sports and with governments and intergovernmental bodies to ensure proper legislation and measures were taken.
As part of that journey, we took a survey to understand how many people were working in our member associations in this topic, and it was clear which we sort of expected, that there was a great deal of work to do. But we wanted a validation where that was the case. And what we found, by and large, is that in parts of the world, such as the UK, the US and a few others, where this has been a topic that was understood, where frankly there had been cases of abuse, that there was a much greater progression in what was established in terms of experienced persons working within the member associations and indeed football. So what what we thought about is what can we do next? And we have an expert working group that consists of UNICEF, member associations with experience in this field and others, global experts. Every step of the way we’ve talked to them about what we should do while, of course, evaluating ourselves and speaking with our confederations of member associations.
We’re really pleased to be working with all of the confederations on this subject as well and helping them to build capacity. Last year, you may know, AFC actually appointed its own safeguarding manager, which was an which is a big step forward and important. In the Oceania region of course, they have the Just Play program and very experienced safeguarding manager running that program.
Nevertheless, there is was more we could do. So we came together and decided that the right thing to do was to look at providing some sort of professional training. We didn’t realize at the time and and we’re told by UNICEF and other experts, there’s no such training exists in any sector, never mind sport. It’s not about the money at all, but we’ve invested almost a million dollars in this program, which aims to professionalize the role of the safeguarding officer primarily in football. Our primary focus is on the member associations and making sure that they have the capacity to fast track that smartly and effectively as possible throughout their football structures and the clubs and so on, and where, of course, people come into daily contact with children, women and vulnerable adults.
One of the agreements was that while we were doing this platform, it made sense to make the content, which is as has been put together by academics, by experts in this area, by the likes of our colleagues at UNICEF UK and others, was that we should make it publicly available so that anybody can have access to this alone.
What we are launching is the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sports Diploma. We will have three categories and at the moment going to be available in three languages, Spanish, French and English. The three categories are very deliberate: The first is FIFA Learners. The FIFA Learners need to be approved by FIFA. We’ve already sent a circular last year to each of the member associations asking them to assign a mandated safeguarding officer or focal point, and that person to be put forward and endorsed by the member association to have the member association’s full support to undertake this two year open learning program. The reason we have FIFA Learners is they will have additional resources that we will provide to them. So a team of expert tutors will have dedicated assignments, webinars, workshops, residential workshops, subject to COVID, it may for the first year have to take place remotely for the reasons you understand very well.
But in addition, other learners will be able to undertake what is called a FIFA Safeguarding in Sports award. So they won’t have those designated workshops at this point, but they will be able to take each of the five courses. And of course, each course gets more in-depth into the requirements of the safeguarding officer. The course that we start with, which will be followed at the end of February by the first webinar, is the FIFA Safeguarding in Sport Essentials. And we want to encourage absolutely everybody involved in football to take this course because it provides the very basic principles of safeguarding. Many of those will be common sense and something that those of us that work in this area already do, but not all. And it’s really important that we believe that everybody takes it. Hence my personal plea to you that you promote this this new academic program.”