United States attacker Lindsey Horan said it was hard to feel proud of her time with the Portland Thorns after reading the Yates report detailing abuse and misconduct in the NWSL and women's professional soccer.
The report, which was commissioned by U.S. Soccer and released on Monday, described a league in the NWSL in which "verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct had become systemic." The report also showed that both Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and former general manager Gavin Wilkinson repeatedly tried to cover up the abuses happening at the club under former coach Paul Riley.
"I'm a part of an organisation I've always felt very proud to play for, a team I fight on the field for, a club I fight on the field for," said Horan, who plays on loan from the Thorns with Lyon in France. "So it's hard to read this and look back and that and feel proud to play for an organisation like that. That's really hard for me personally and especially with all the work you've put in for that team and that club, that's where I feel hurt and disturbed and obviously, just so much anger for these players as well."
On Tuesday, Paulson said he would step aside from his role in helping to run the club, while Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub were relieved of their duties on Wednesday with both the Thorns and MLS club Portland Timbers.
"It's not [enough] just to speak out once," Horan added. "It's to speak out multiple times, to send multiple emails, to complain multiple times."
Horan and Crystal Dunn are in London ahead of the UWSNT's friendly against England on Friday and another versus Spain on Oct. 11 as the team continues preparation for next summer's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
On Tuesday, teammate Becky Sauerbrunn told reporters she was infuriated by what she read in the Yates report and Dunn, who also plays for the Thorns in the NWSL, added she agreed with Horan that it was hard to take pride in wearing the jersey of a club that hadn't looked out for the best interest of its players.
"Yeah, I think that is probably one of the hardest things as players that we are facing now, is feeling a sense of pride in playing," said Dunn, who is returning to national team duty following the birth of her first child. "The jerseys that we're wearing, it's hard to be happy in them, it's hard to find joy in wearing it.
"What gives me comfort is knowing I have incredible teammates that I've really leaned on a lot throughout this year, just sharing these moments together and learning on each other has allowed us some comfort in this situation. It's not going to be easy, it's day to day, but I do think as players I hope we can be proud of our accomplishments and ourselves for where we are in playing this game."
However, with the U.S. team in London on international duty and having to process the news away from home, Dunn admitted many were struggling with what they saw in the Yates report.
"I'd be lying if I said we're doing well. We're getting through it," Dunn said. "A lot of us are trying to find joy in playing this game. There's an amazing game ahead of us on Friday. I think we're all trying to individually navigate that as best we can. Some of us are just able to separate the two and focus on training one training at a time."
Horan added that the team is looking forward to getting to play England at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on Friday, saying: "I do want to remind everyone that this game is so incredibly cool. These are the games we want to play in. These are massive."