Youth soccer sexual abuse accountability
Youth soccer is the number one participatory sport for kids. As a result, it also has one of the highest numbers of coaches banned from the sport for sex-related crimes. According to the US SafeSport website, nearly 180 individuals have been banned from the sport.
One reason for a large number of banned individuals is the lack of commitment to keep kids safe from sexual predators. It was only through attorneys Stephen Estey and Robert Allard’s legal efforts that youth soccer organizations received a wake-up call.
In 2018, Estey and Allard settled a sexual abuse case against the United States Youth Soccer Association (USYS) and its affiliate California Youth Soccer Association North (Cal North) for $8.2 million. It is believed to be a record single-plaintiff settlement in a youth soccer child sex abuse case.
Simultaneously, the sexual abuse legal case also established important case law. The court ruled that youth organizations must require criminal background checks on coaches. Before the court ruling, the two soccer organizations had a self-reporting policy for coaching applicants. They did not require or conduct criminal background checks of coaches.
Youth soccer in America
There are two leading youth soccer organizations and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, the official governing body for soccer in the United States.
The United States Youth Soccer Association is the oldest national youth soccer program in the United States. It has over three million players between the ages of five to 19, 10,000 teams, and 55 State Associations. It is a member of U.S. Soccer.
The other large soccer group is the American Youth Soccer Organization or AYSO, which has an estimated 50,000 teams and more than 600,000 players between the ages of four and 19.
Continuing to hold youth soccer accountable
In late 2020, AYSO, along with U.K. International Soccer (UKIS) were sued by Estey. The lawsuit claims that the two major Los Angeles-area soccer organizations were responsible for the sexual abuse of a young Southern California soccer player.
The lawsuit states that UKIS brought coach Stephen Morgan from the U.K. to Southern California to coach AYSO players through a partnership with UKIS. Yet, according to the complaint, AYSO overlooked and violated their own background check and supervision policies. The oversight led to the abuse of the youngster.
AYSO has a player development agreement with UKIS, promoting its player development program and its partnerships with various MLS teams, including the L.A. Galaxy. UKIS claims to have an international coaching staff from 29 different countries worldwide and a partnership with The English Football Association.
Contact an Athlete Abuse Attorney
Young athletes deserve protection from coaches wanting to do them harm. Our athlete abuse attorneys do just that — hold institutions accountable and protect sexual abuse victims and survivors. Call or email for a 100% confidential consultation.