England players will join forces with the United States to show solidarity for victims of the abuse scandal ahead of Friday evening’s sold-out international at Wembley.
Football in America has been rocked by an independent investigation which found abusive behaviour and sexual misconduct “had become systemic” in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Lionesses forward Beth Mead said she was “sickened” by the situation, while head coach Sarina Wiegman called it “horrible” and “unacceptable”.
“We’re in contact with the American team and some of the players,” said Mead.
“We’re working on something to show our support for them.
“When I found out, I was sickened by the situation. It’s a worldwide problem but women need to be taken seriously. (I’m) very proud of the victims that actually stood up and said it.
“People need to start doing better, the US governing body needs to be doing better, worldwide we need to be doing better.”
The Lionesses later confirmed their plans, tweeting: “In a show of unity and common cause, our players will join the @USWNT tomorrow and take to the field wearing teal armbands to stand in solidarity with sexual abuse victims.”
US Soccer said it would move immediately to implement reform after misconduct allegations were made against a handful of male coaches following interviews with more than 200 people, including NWSL players.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 6, 2022
The investigation, conducted by Sally Yates and King & Spalding LLP, was launched last year and includes claims against Englishman Paul Riley, Rory Dames and Northern Irishman Christy Holly. All three deny any wrongdoing.
Mead, who on Thursday was named England Women’s Player of the Year for 2021-22 after winning the Euro 2022 golden boot, believes players have greater confidence about speaking out on such issues.
“We feel liked we’ve got a good platform to make a difference,” said the Arsenal star.
“We wrote the open letter about PE in school for girls and we want to use our platform and our voice for the greater good of the of the women’s game and women’s sport in general.
“It’s something we feel more confident about doing but we also have the full support from the FA.”
Lionesses boss Wiegman announced Millie Bright would captain the side for the friendly in front of around 90,000 fans due to the injury absence of fellow defender Leah Williamson.
She echoed Mead’s comments about abuse in women’s sport being a worldwide issue.
“My first reaction is that it is horrible, unacceptable that it’s still happening and I feel very, very sorry for all of the victims,” said the Dutch coach.
“It should stop immediately of course, we all agree on that.
“This problem in the USA, I think it’s a worldwide problem still and it’s just really the time now that we all step up and stop these things. Whatever abuse it is, it’s just horrible and really unacceptable.”
Following the injury withdrawals of Williamson, Lucy Parker and Alessia Russo, England have no further selection issues.