During the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France 2019, the FCN email account lit up in the final week. I would wake up in the morning, check the email account and bam…there was a tirade of emails. At first, I thought…wow! This World Cup was making really waves and people want to get in touch and share their admiration on a deeper level than just social media.
It’s not uncommon for the FCN to spike in its communication during a major sporting event. I often receive emails congratulating certain teams, athletes or coaches from random sports fans, fellow coaches and Global media who want the FCN to put them in touch with this coach or that coach. The FCN social media also spikes with coaches and fans showing their appreciation. Most notably in 2016, when athlete Wayde Van Niekerk broke the 400m World Record at the Rio Olympics – his coach Ans Botha got so much attention, our weekly hits on the website soared to 5 million in a week!
Celebration, was however, not the reason for the spike in emails during the last week of the women’s FIFA World Cup in 2019.
Following a number of tweets sent out by President Trump (nothing new there), sharing his strange damaged ego ridden thoughts on the ‘behaviour’ of Megan Rapinoe and upfront refusal made by the team and coach Jill Ellis that they would not be visiting the White House if invited, the FCN email account was filled with Trump supporters sharing their agreement with Trump and their ‘disgust’ on the ‘behaviour’ of the USA Women’s Team.
I refuse to give these people any airtime and refuse to quote their emails here in this article, but I will share with you the main subject of the emails. Many of them (although not all) were death threats. Their disgust was not based on any sound political opinion or any rational thoughts around American representation, instead, they were based around the sexuality, the gender and the nationality of the team and their coach.
Once again, I refuse to quote these emails, but trust me when I say they were abhorrent.
The reason I write this article however, is to share with you an additional thing that shocked me. After seeking advice from a football coach in the US (as I am based in the U.K), I decided to contact USA Soccer. Whilst I am quite sure nothing would come of these emails as I am sure the people that wrote them simply wanted to feel better about themselves by writing down their twisted concept of what it was to be ‘American’, I did feel that the governing body should know. After all, isn’t the number one priority of any governing body to protect their athletes and coaches?
Added to that…how would I feel if anything had happened, knowing that I had kept a bunch of emails to myself?
Here’s the shocking part…I rang USA Soccer HQ 12 times, I emailed 6 times and left 5 voice messages. Granted, the first time I rang was the day USA Soccer team were celebrating on an open top bus, but I did continue for a number of weeks.
My emails and voice mails clearly stated who I was and that I had received death threats to their players and their coaches.
To date – I am yet to receive any returning communication. Is it me? Is anyone else as shocked as me?
USA Soccer even have a program called “Safe Soccer”.
“The Safe Soccer Framework is a comprehensive program of policies and process, screening, education and training, reporting, monitoring and enforcement designed to help participants detect and report abuse, respond to it, and prevent future occurrences.”
FYI – I also reported this through the portal of this program.
We all know the devastation that is caused when governing bodies turn a blind eye. You only have to look at what happened at USA Gymnastics to know that ignoring destroys lives.
This is my plea to governing bodies around the world – DO NOT IGNORE.
If USA Soccer do read this article, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily forward these emails and the emailers to you.
UPDATE: US Soccer called me to discuss this 7 days after publishing
Author: Vicky Huyton is the founder of the Female Coaching Network