LONDON — US women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski said he was proud of his players because they were “even on the field” after they lost 2-1 to England at Wembley Stadium on Friday, few Days after the publication of a report on systemic abuse in women’s football in the United States
Sally Yates’ independent investigative report, released Monday, details systematic abuse within the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and that league officials and governing body US Soccer have failed to adequately protect players.
In light of this development, Andonovski was full of praise for the mentality of his squad.
“Obviously it’s been an extremely difficult week for everyone and I’m proud of the players for being on the pitch and playing the game at all,” he said. “It was’nt easy.
“For some of them who have been in the area to see and experience all they have been through, I applaud their courage and I applaud their fearless mentality and relentlessness. Once again they have shown that nothing can stop them from playing the game they love. I’m very proud of her and I hope we never have to go through that again.”
USA were beaten by first-half goals from England’s Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway in front of nearly 77,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium. Sophia Smith scored for USA, who were also controversially denied a second goal when the video assistant referee ruled the build-up had been declared offside.
But the game was far more than what happened on the field.
Players from England and the USWNT gathered before kick-off to unveil a banner showing their support for victims of sexual abuse.
The players held a banner reading ‘Protect The Players’ in the center circle while the Wembley Arch above the stadium was illuminated in blue-green for 15 minutes before kick-off. Both teams wore teal armbands in solidarity.
“It was a special moment when the players got together and had the banner in front of them,” added Andonovski.
“I had goosebumps seeing the support from the fans applauding at that moment. It was a statement that we need to stop sexual violence and once again the players did an incredible job using this game and this event as a platform to fight back against it.”
England manager Sarina Wiegman added: “It was very important. We all wanted to do our part to support each other. It is very terrible that these situations happen. It was horrible for the victims and now they have to go through it all over again. Should stop.
“Now people are coming forward and it’s very strong and we need to make sure it changes and doesn’t happen again.
“We celebrated a lot of things today, but when that happens, you can’t just let it be. The time is now, we use this momentum to spread the word that what is happening is unacceptable and terrible.”
Speaking on the eve of the game, USWNT veteran Megan Rapinoe said she was “emotionally exhausted” after handling the report and called for accountability for those the report said were complicit in the abuse cover-up.
Rapinoe said the report was “devastating by every measure” but commended the USWNT team for “how we were able to take this on and continue our work” ahead of Friday’s game.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/england-engw/story/4763603/protect-the-players-uswntengland-share-powerful-message-ahead-of-wembley-friendly USWNT coach – Proud of players for even being on field vs. England after ‘extremely difficult week’