April 21, 2024

Does the American Center for Safe Sport deliver on its promises?

HIt was a fiery letter signed by members of the women's and men's national teams and young US soccer talent that tried to rouse congressional politicians in Washington last summer. The purpose of their complaint? Representatives are dealing with a problem for which they clearly claimed responsibility with a new law in 2017.

Because of abuse scandals, including in gymnastics, they have drawn up a list of measures to protect victims from sexual assault and decided on the legal legitimacy of a private institution. It is intended to be a tool in the fight against cover-ups and pettiness, and is funded primarily with Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) funds. It is equipped with a list of penalties, up to a professional ban.

8,000 athletes register every year

The latest figures show just how urgent the action is. About 8,000 athletes now file abuse allegations each year with the Denver-based U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The organization employs one hundred people with a budget of $21 million (about 19.3 million euros).

However, from what footballers discovered in 2022 as part of research by independent expert, former US Attorney General Sally Yates, it does not appear as if “SafeSport” does what the name promises. Based on conversations with 200 affected people, their report on psychological and sexual abuse suffered by coaches in the NWSL Women's Professional League revealed not only individual examples of attacks, but also everyday mechanisms for covering up and downplaying attacks.