Ukraine perseveres: set to join Spain-Portugal’s 2030 World Cup bid
The announcement will soon be made official: Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in a combined bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

Aperson familiar with the project told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Ukraine is being added to the Spain-Portugal bid. The revitalized bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made public.

Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko confirmed to the AP he will go to Switzerland for the announcement, but he declined to confirm details of the project.

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The addition of Ukraine to the European bid was first reported by British newspaper The Times of London.

Ukraine co-hosted the 2012 European Championship in four stadiums, including in Donetsk and Kharkiv. Those cities in eastern Ukraine have been under occupation or bombardment since Russia invaded the country earlier this year.

FIFA has given no formal timetable to choose a host for the 48-team tournament in 2030, but the governing body has promised a decision in 2024. Voting would involve about 200 FIFA member federations.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. That bid has the emotional pull of being the centenary for Uruguay, which hosted – and won – the inaugural 1930 World Cup.

Ukraine’s involvement in a World Cup bid would likely be supported by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who two weeks ago praised UEFA for supporting soccer in his country and suspending all Russian teams from international competitions, including the lucrative Champions League.

Soccer in Ukraine restarted in August after the national league was abandoned last season during the invasion. League games are being played in Kyiv and the western city of Lviv, with many interrupted by air raid alerts. Teams and officials have sheltered in bunkers until it was safe to resume games.

Ukraine’s national team and leading clubs are currently unable to host games in international competitions because of the security risk. Those games, including Shakhtar Donetsk playing in the Champions League, have mostly been played in neighboring Poland.

Pavelko is set to accompany the presidents of the Spanish and Portuguese soccer federations, Luis Rubiales and Fernando Gomes, at the news conference Wednesday. All three are members of the UEFA executive committee and both Rubiales and Gomes are vice presidents

Launching the three-nation bid ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar allows the European colleagues to lobby their potential voters at the tournament.

Europe last hosted the World Cup in 2018 in Russia. The 2026 edition, expanding to 48 teams, will be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

USWNT captain after abuse scandal: Those who hid it should be gone

Becky Sauerbrunn, captain of the USWNT, has called for the resignation of all those club owners and executives in the NWSL who covered up the scandal of “systematic abuse” of players that has come to light this week following the release of a court report commissioned by the US Soccer Federation (USSF).

In her video statement, Sauerbrunn acknowledged that the players are not at all happy with how the whole thing has been handled.

We are horrified, and heartbroken, and frustrated, and exhausted, and really really angry,” said Sauerbrunn.

“We are angry that it took a third-party investigation. We are angry that it took an article in The Athletic and The Washington Post and numerous others.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now.

“And we’re angry that it took Mana [Shim] and Sinead [Farrelly] and Erin [Simon] and Kaiya [McCullough] and Alex [Morgan] and Christen [Press] and Sam [Johnson] to repeatedly ask people in authority to take their abuse and their concerns seriously.”

The independent investigation (by the law firm King & Spalding) paints a picture in which verbal and emotional abuse of female soccer players and inappropriate sexual behaviors exceed the boundaries of “hardcore” coaching and are commonplace from junior to senior levels.

Nearly 200 interviews with retired and active players, coaches, club owners and staff revealed manipulative tactics that were more about abuse of power than improving the game. And a disturbing pattern of sexual comments, unwanted touching and coercive sex.

Calls for mass resignations
In the face of such revelations, the veteran Portland Thorns FC player has stepped forward on behalf of all female soccer players across the country calling for the resignations of all leaders and executives who hid the abuses for years.

“And I think for so long, this has always fallen on the players to demand change and that is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us, and they have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable.

Becky Sauerbrunn, captain of the USWNT, has called for the resignation of all those club owners and executives in the NWSL who covered up the scandal of “systematic abuse” of players that has come to light this week following the release of a court report commissioned by the US Soccer Federation (USSF).

In her video statement, Sauerbrunn acknowledged that the players are not at all happy with how the whole thing has been handled.

Serious words
“We are horrified, and heartbroken, and frustrated, and exhausted, and really really angry,” said Sauerbrunn.

“We are angry that it took a third-party investigation. We are angry that it took an article in The Athletic and The Washington Post and numerous others.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now.

“And we’re angry that it took Mana [Shim] and Sinead [Farrelly] and Erin [Simon] and Kaiya [McCullough] and Alex [Morgan] and Christen [Press] and Sam [Johnson] to repeatedly ask people in authority to take their abuse and their concerns seriously.”

Abuse and sexual misconduct
The independent investigation (by the law firm King & Spalding) paints a picture in which verbal and emotional abuse of female soccer players and inappropriate sexual behaviors exceed the boundaries of “hardcore” coaching and are commonplace from junior to senior levels.

Nearly 200 interviews with retired and active players, coaches, club owners and staff revealed manipulative tactics that were more about abuse of power than improving the game. And a disturbing pattern of sexual comments, unwanted touching and coercive sex.

Calls for mass resignations
In the face of such revelations, the veteran Portland Thorns FC player has stepped forward on behalf of all female soccer players across the country calling for the resignations of all leaders and executives who hid the abuses for years.

What, and who, are you actually protecting? And what values are you upholding?

“You have failed in your stewardship. And it’s my opinion that every owner and executive and U.S. Soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players, who have hidden behind legalities, and have not participated fully in these investigations, should be gone.”

National Women’s Soccer League scandal: report reveals systematic sexual and emotional abuse in women’s soccer league

An independent investigation lasting over a year uncovered one of the biggest sports scandals in the United States. According to the study, there is evidence of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse towards players in the National Women’s Soccer League, the highest division of American women’s soccer.

The report, of about 173 pages, details that it is something systematic, involving multiple coaches, clubs and players. The investigation began after a report by ‘The Athletic’ in 2021 found widespread abuse of players, both sexual and emotional, in the NWSL.

“Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, starting in the youth leagues, that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs the lines between coaches and players,” said Sally Yates, lead investigator.

Specific cases of the investigation
Some of the systematic cases are detailed in the report. It includes a coach who called a player to show her a video of a game, but in the end he shows her porn. Another of the cases cited is that of two players forced to have sexual relations with each other.

Yates also explained that the report found that the leaders of the NWSL and the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of the sport in the United States, as well as owners, executives and coaches at all levels, did not act on years of voluminous and persistent reports of abuse by coaches.

“Teams, the League and the Federation not only repeatedly failed to respond adequately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse, they also failed to institute basic measures to prevent and address it,” Yates said.

Similarly, the report also revealed that three clubs – Portland Thorns, Racing Louisville FC and Chicago Stars – did not cooperate with investigators. “The Portland Thorns interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and made misleading legal arguments in an attempt to prevent our use of relevant documents.”