United States captain Becky Sauerbrunn has declared the squad are "heartbroken and frustrated" after an independent enquiry found widespread misconduct in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).

Former US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released a report on Monday saying abuse and sexual misconduct spanned multiple teams and coaches, while the NWSL and US Soccer failed to put in "basic measures" to safeguard players or "respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse".

The revelations have overshadowed the national side's preparations to face England at Wembley on Friday, with Sauerbrunn stating the squad have been left furious with the situation.

"The players are not doing well. We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry. We are angry that it took a third-party investigation," she said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Sauerbrunn also called for the removal of individuals from both organisations who failed to protect the players.

"I think for so long this has fallen on the players to demand change. 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," she added.

"Who are you actually protecting and what values are you upholding? You have failed in your stewardship.

"Every owner and executive and US Soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated in these investigations should be gone."

OL Reign defender Alana Cook added that the situation has marred the upcoming clash against England, saying: "I think we have such a momentous occasion on Friday playing at a sold out Wembley Stadium.

"It's marred by this report, and it's marred by the atrocities that have been condoned and tolerated and allowed to go on."

Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler have already announced they will step aside from their stewardship of the clubs following the release of the report.

Both Paulson and Whisler were cited within the report, the former accused of enabling ex-Thorns boss Paul Riley, who has faced accusations of sexual coercion from former players, while the latter was deemed to have dismissed concerns over the abusive behaviour of former coach Rory Dames.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn labelled Jude Bellingham "an excellent player" as he addressed speculation over a potential move for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

The England international has been tipped as the next of the Black and Yellow's young superstar breed to depart, following Erling Haaland's exit to Manchester City ahead of the current campaign.

A return to his native country and the Premier League has been heavily mooted, though Dortmund – who handed Bellingham the captaincy for their 3-2 loss to Koln over the weekend –hope he will yet remain.

But despite their admiration for the player, the 19-year-old will not be moving to the Bundesliga champions, with Kahn insisting they are already well-stocked for his position.

"Of course, I think Bellingham is an excellent player," Kahn told Sport Bild when asked if there would be any interest in a swoop for the teenager.

"But we've got Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Ryan Gravenberch, Marcel Sabitzer. I can say we're well-equipped in that position. We're not worried about that at all."

Bellingham is anticipated to be a starting member of Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, having been a member of their Euro 2020 party which finished as runners-up.

News that City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, a mainstay of the England midfielder, will undergo shoulder surgery has cast doubt on his place, with Bellingham having deputised during the September international break.

Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler will both step away from their clubs amid an ongoing investigation into sexual misconduct and abuse across the National Women's Soccer League.

U.S. Soccer announced the findings of an independent investigation earlier this week that found "systemic abuse and misconduct" within the women's professional game.

Both Paulson and Whisler were cited within the report, led by former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates.

The former has been accused of enabling ex-Thorns boss Paul Riley, who has faced accusations of sexual coercion from former players, while the latter was deemed to have dismissed concerns over the abusive behaviour of former coach Rory Dames.

Now, the pair say they will withdraw from their clubs until a concurrent investigation by the league and players' union has been completed, in light of the findings.

"Yesterday's Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league," Paulson said in a statement

"I know it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. I cannot apologise enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015."

Whisler followed suit, adding he would also step away from the NWSL board of governors, stating: "Our organisation is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club.

"I recognise that my current presence is a distraction. I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players' incredible and well-earned playoff run.

"So in the interest of the club and the players, and fans we serve, effective immediately, I will remove myself from my governance role within the NWSL board of governors and will hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago."

Chelsea's admiration of 23-year-old Milan forward Rafael Leao is not a secret.

The Blues, along with several other clubs including Manchester City, are keen on the Portuguese.

Chelsea have also been linked with Christopher Nkunku in recent days but are plotting ways to land Rafael Leao too.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA AND MILAN PLOTTING SWAP DEAL

Chelsea and Milan are considering a swap deal whereby Rafael Leao would join the Blues, claims Calciomercato.

Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi would be part of the deal, although the Italian champions would still demand a £90million fee for the Portuguese.

According to the report, Milan will use their Champions League game on Wednesday against the Blues at Stamford Bridge to talk with Pulisic, along with Trevoh Chalobah.

ROUND-UP

– 90min claims that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is top of Chelsea's transfer wish list. The Hammers slapped a £120m price tag on the England international in the off-season, although that will likely drop as the length of his contract shortens.

– Football Insider claims Arsenal have reached an agreement in principle with 21-year-old winger Bukayo Saka on a new contract. Saka's current deal expires in 2024.

Everton are eager to use the option-to-buy trigger in Conor Coady's loan deal from Wolves, claims The Times. Coady would cost the Toffees less than £10m.

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper could be sacked by owner Evangelos Marinakis, according to The Mail, with The Guardian linking Rafael Benitez with the role along with ex-Burnely boss Sean Dyche.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that former Inter and Lazio midfielder and Red Star boss Dejan Stankovic has reached a full agreement with Sampdoria to become the Italian Serie A club's new manager to replace the sacked Marco Giampaolo.

Jose Mourinho is set to be offered a new contract by Roma, potentially keeping him in the Italian capital until 2026, reports La Repubblica.

– Sport1 claims ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has declined the opportunity to take over at Bayer Leverkusen amid their poor start to the season.

Tottenham missed the chance to move top of Group D in the Champions League after being held to a goalless draw by Eintracht Frankfurt.

It proved to be a wasteful day for Antonio Conte's side, who registered just two shots on target from 11 attempts in Germany.

Harry Kane and Heung-min Son went closest for Spurs, but they have now failed to find the net in successive Champions League group games for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Both sides remain on four points after three matches, and two behind Group D leaders Sporting CP following the Portuguese giants' 4-1 thrashing by Marseille.

Emerson Royal fired a volley over after six minutes, while Kane was whiskers away from applying the finishing touch to a wonderful move as he narrowly avoided connecting with Son's inviting cross.

Kane whipped a fierce 20-yard strike narrowly wide in the 28th minute. The England captain then turned provider with a neat flick that released Son, whose curling shot was also off target, before Ivan Perisic's deflected effort spun inches wide.

Frankfurt almost took the lead in spectacular fashion five minutes after the restart; Ansgar Knauff springing the offside trap before his acrobatic effort was blocked by Hugo Lloris.

Evan Ndicka produced a magnificent last-ditch intervention to deny Kane at the other end, while Son whipped an 18-yard strike wide.

Jesper Lindstrom fired a glorious opportunity to snatch the win over after Spurs were caught in possession on the edge of their penalty area, as the spoils were shared at Deutsche Bank Park.

Julian Nagelsmann feels Bayern Munich's resounding 5-0 win over Viktoria Plzen was "another step in the right direction" for his side ahead of facing Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern followed up Friday's 4-0 Bundesliga thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen with an even more emphatic victory in Tuesday's Champions League tie with Czech champions Plzen.

It marks the first time the Bavarians have won back-to-back matches in all competitions since August, having gone four league games without a win prior to the international break.

Nagelsmann is pleased with what he saw from his side against Plzen, with Bayern returning to form at just the right time ahead of Saturday's Klassiker showdown with fierce rivals Dortmund.

"The boys did well today," Nagelsmann told DAZN. "That's how you have to approach a game. We decided it quickly then controlled it. 

"With a view to Saturday, that was important, serious and well deserved. It was another game that shows we are taking steps in the right direction."

 

The hosts were three goals up inside 21 minutes, with Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane netting after Leroy Sane had opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena.

Sane doubled his tally early in the second half before substitute Eric Choupo-Moting rounded off the scoring for the leaders in a one-sided Group C contest.

It is the 26th time Bayern have scored five or more goals in a Champions League match, which is five more than next-best Barcelona.

Mane wasted some promising chances to add to the scoring, netting from just one of his six attempts, but the forward was happy with his side's performance.

"The team played a great game, with a lot of chances created," he said. "We deserved to win. 

"The past few weeks have been tough. It was important we reacted. We reacted well after the international break. Hopefully we can continue like this until the end of the season.

"We have nine points from three Champions League games and a good goal difference. We are in a good place. 

"We were disciplined today. We were well prepared for the opponent and that's where most of the goals came from."

Bayern have now gone 31 games without defeat in the group stage of the Champions League, overtaking the record of 30 set by Real Madrid in 2017.

"We rightly received criticism during the international break," said Leon Goretzka, who set up two of the goals against Plzen.

"We used the time well and focused on our game again. Our aim is to perform on a regular basis. We're still extremely upset about the games before that."

Milan striker Olivier Giroud believes it will be a "special game" when he lines up against former club Chelsea in the Champions League.

Giroud returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since departing the Blues on a free transfer at the end of the 2020-21 season.

The 36-year-old spent three-and-a-half years with the Premier League side; scoring 39 goals in 119 appearances across all competitions.

He notably scored 11 times - then the highest tally by a French player during a single European season - as Chelsea won the Europa League in 2019, while adding another six during their Champions League-winning campaign two years later.

And Giroud is excited to be returning to the English capital, where he also scored 105 goals in 253 appearances for Arsenal between 2012 and 2018.

"I think it'll be a special game for the team because it's a great Champions League match-up," the France international told Milan Channel.

"It's also personally for me, as I spent nine years in London playing for Arsenal and Chelsea, so I expect it to be a great game.

"It's always a pleasure when the people you met while playing for your former clubs have so much respect for you, also because I want to be seen not only as a good player on the pitch, but also a good person off it.

"I have many friends in London. Chelsea have just one point so far, so they will play aggressively and in an energetic way, aiming for the win, so we expect a tough game.

"I have a lot of hope for our Champions League journey this season. I am very proud of this squad and I think we can do well with this group of players in the Champions League.

"This match can also give the team great confidence if we win, to boost us for the next games."

Having collected four points from their opening two games, Milan will remain top of Group E with victory at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea are targeting their first win of the campaign under Graham Potter.

Head coach Stefano Pioli has urged the Rossoneri to asset their authority on the contest as they look to launch a genuine title challenge, with the most recent of their seven triumphs coming in 2007.

"Chelsea won the Champions League a short time ago. From there, it has strengthened again, and the level is very high," he said. "But we want to try to be there, at that level.

"Chelsea changed coach, and so we’ll face a highly motivated team. Very simply, either we dominate the game, or the other team will dominate us.

"We want to take control of the match, knowing full well we are up against an opponent with great quality, who have a rapid attacking unit with good technique, so we have to be solid and focused in defence.

"What matters though is that we play with our spirit and try to attack, to be dangerous, because that’s what we can do and what we want to do.”

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier believes his players will have to show they can "play under pressure" if they are to take three points from Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Benfica.

The fixture sees two sides with 100-per-cent records so far in Group H face off, with PSG top by virtue of scoring more goals than their Portuguese counterparts.

Both teams also lead their domestic leagues and are yet to lose a game so far this campaign, suggesting the match in Lisbon could be an exciting and tight affair between two sides in excellent form.

And Galtier acknowledged the challenge that faces his players, telling reporters at Tuesday's pre-match press conference: "What we are going to have to do, to perform well and beat Benfica, is have this ability to play under pressure.

"This team will come and get us, it's the DNA of the club and their coach. It puts enormous pressure on us. We have to be much more effective on an offensive level.

"It's a team that has been undefeated since the start of the season. It's very interesting to watch them play, very well organised, with quality. They bhave significant collective strength.

"I'm not surprised that they're at this level. Today, Benfica can claim to be a favourite of this group."

Benfica's strong start has been aided by their excellent home form, having won all seven of their games at the Estadio da Luz in all competitions.

But Galtier is confident his players will be able to cope, adding: "There will be an extraordinary atmosphere. This stadium is growing very strong, but I have players who have a lot of experience, a lot of experience in relation to that.

"Will we be able to play and play well with public pressure? Will we be able to do it? I think we have the qualities. We can also be very dangerous."

Former England captain David Beckham has backed the Three Lions to go all the way in Qatar, despite a woeful sequence of results this year.

Gareth Southgate's side head to the World Cup after failing to win any of their six Nations League matches and suffering relegation from the top tier of the UEFA competition.

That run is England's longest winless streak in almost 30 years, while it also marks the worst run of form the side has ever faced before a major international tournament.

Despite that and rising pressure on Southgate, Beckham believes England have the capability to win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

"I will always say England. It's going to be difficult but the fact we are now going into a big competition like the World Cup, only playing 25 games in the season, player energy will be up, they won't be injured," he told Sky Sports.

"They've not played 60 games in a season, so I think they are going to be ready. We have a big opportunity.

"Gareth Southgate has done an incredible job with the players. The unity, which I think is a big part of it, we saw that in the Euros. My prediction is that, hopefully, England will go all the way, but it is not going to be easy."

England begin their campaign on November 21 against Iran, then facing the United States and Wales in Group B.

England captain Leah Williamson will miss Friday's friendly against the United States at Wembley after sustaining an injury in training.

Williamson, who led Sarina Wiegman's team to a remarkable European Championship triumph in July, requires further assessment on the unspecified injury.

Fellow Euro 2022 winners Lotte Wubben-Moy and Nikita Parris have been added to England's squad, the Football Association said, with West Ham defender Lucy Parker withdrawing through injury. Former skipper Steph Houghton remains out of the picture for now, but Wiegman has said the door remains open to her.

The sell-out clash with the reigning world champions will represent a stern test of England's credentials ahead of next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

England have picked up just two victories in their last 16 meetings with the USA in all competitions (D2 L12), failing to win any of their last four such games since a 2017 victory in the SheBelieves Cup.

However, England are still yet to lose under Wiegman, winning 20 of their 22 matches since she took charge last year, scoring a total of 118 goals.

England will head to Brighton and Hove Albion's AMEX Stadium to host the Czech Republic next Tuesday after facing the USA.

Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly both interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, who could become available at the end of this season.

Bennacer, 24, spent time at Arsenal's academy before heading to Empoli, where he impressed enough to earn a €16million move to Milan in 2019.

He already has 42 international caps for Algeria after debuting as an 18-year-old, and he has started in seven of Milan's eight Serie A fixtures to begin this campaign, but his contract situation could accelerate his exit from Italy.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE HEAVYWEIGHTS CIRCLE BENNACER

Bennacer's contract expires in 2024, at the end of next season, but the more time that passes before signing an extension, the more pressure Milan will be under to cash in as opposed to letting him leave for free.

According to Calciomercato, Milan value him at €50million as Chelsea, Liverpool and Serie A rivals Juventus all keep a close eye on his progress.

The report says to pry him away from Milan in January would take a "sensational offer", but if Milan decide to see out the rest of the season their leverage in negotiations will be significantly weakened.

Both Bennacer and team-mate Rafael Leao have high levels of interest from elite clubs, and Milan will likely not have the budget to hand out two big extensions.

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester United will not stand in Cristiano Ronaldo's way if he wishes to leave in January.

– According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea are interested in signing Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli.

– 90min is reporting Chelsea are also trying to push RB Leipzig into accepting deals for centre-back Josko Gvardiol and forward Christopher Nkunku as soon as possible.

Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of getting Lionel Messi to agree to a new contract with his deal set to expire at the end of this season, although they will hold off on negotiations until after the World Cup, per Mundo Deportivo.

– January will mark 18 months remaining on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's contract with Lazio, and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's top clubs are all keeping a close eye on the 27-year-old's availability.

Gonzalo Higuain will retire from professional football at the end of the 2022 MLS season, he announced on Monday.

The veteran striker, a 75-cap former Argentina international who was a member of the squad that came second at the 2014 World Cup, will bring the curtain down on a glittering 17-year career.

Higuain played over 100 games for each of Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus, having began his playing days with River Plate, while he also had brief spells with Milan and Chelsea before joining Inter Miami.

A six-time domestic league champion – with three LaLiga crowns and three Serie A triumphs – he signed for the MLS club in September 2020.

Higuain has been in top form for Miami in the second half of this season, scoring 12 goals and assisting a further two in the past 14 games.

Phil Neville's side are seventh in the Eastern Conference, clinging to the final playoff place with two games of the regular season remaining.

Victories over Orlando City on Wednesday and CF Montreal on Sunday would extend Miami's season and Higuain's career.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz are set to play Paraguay in two international friendlies next month as they continue preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi believes his team need to play with "aggression and determination" against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Inzaghi is under fire after a run that has seen Inter lose four of their last six in all competitions, with a 2-1 home defeat to Roma at the weekend leaving the Nerazzurri ninth in Serie A, already eight points behind joint-leaders Napoli and Atalanta.

And Tuesday's match will see them host a Barcelona side in red-hot form, top of LaLiga and yet to lose a league match this season under the leadership of former midfielder Xavi.

In his pre-match press conference, Inzaghi outlined just how tough a task the game was going to be, while explaining how his team need to play at the San Siro if they are to get a result.

"Tomorrow is a great opportunity, knowing that we meet a very strong team, probably one of the best in Europe," Inzaghi told reporters.

"It is a complete, strong team with a lot of quality. They know how to do everything, they have pressing and ball recovery. It is a team that knows how to do everything in possession and non-possession.

"Barcelona are a very strong team, complete in all departments. They have a lot of quality, plus they have [Robert] Lewandowski.

"We will have to play a game of aggression and determination."

Inzaghi also had positive news about striker Lautaro Martinez's availability for the fixture, adding: "This morning Lautaro made an exam where no injury was evident.

"He finished the game [against Roma] fatigued, today he will do a partial training and we will see what his condition will be."

Julian Nagelsmann may shuffle his pack for Bayern Munich's Champions League game against Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, with the depleted Bavarians set to host Borussia Dortmund four days later.

Bayern have started their Champions League campaign with back-to-back wins over Inter and Barcelona, and lead the duo by three points at the top of Group C.

Should they record another European win at the Allianz Arena next time out, Bayern will have won their first three Champions League matches for a fourth season in succession.

On the domestic stage, however, Bayern trail surprise pace-setters Union Berlin and Freiburg after an inconsistent run of results, and host rivals Dortmund on Saturday.

With Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich set to miss the Plzen match after contracting COVID-19, Nagelsmann is aware of the need to manage his squad.

"We need to rotate because of Joshua and Thomas, so there are different ways, there are so many options," Nagelsmann said at his pre-match press conference.

"You'll see tomorrow which I decide. We're still in a situation where we need to grab points. 

"It's important for the Champions League to win the game against Plzen, and also to keep the rhythm for the game against Dortmund, where there might be more pressure than in the Champions League.

"Plzen like to play defensively and counter-attack, and that could be a challenge. We'll try to get into our optimum phase considering what is still ahead."

Bayern have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 recently, with Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka withdrawing from the Germany squad after contracting the virus last month.

Nagelsmann offered a positive update on the conditions of Muller and Kimmich, and hopes to have them back after Tuesday's match, adding: "Thomas and Joshua don't have any symptoms, they're doing well. Of course, they would love to play, but nothing has changed.

"We can do the tests on Friday and if those go well, they are candidates against Dortmund. It depends on the tests we will do.

"In general, the incidence is high in Munich so it's a factor that concerns us. We've talked with the players. 

"They've had the suggestion that they're not going to go to the Oktoberfest since the officials took part, so no partying there!

"Outside of the pitch, professional players are normal people. Everybody's looking after themselves."

Nagelsmann also revealed Kingsley Coman will not feature against Plzen despite recovering from a muscle injury, but said Serge Gnabry had his full support if selected to start out wide.

"First of all, with Kingsley, he is doing well," Nagelsmann said. "He practiced well, he was great, but he's not going to be a part of tomorrow's game.

"We'll try to heighten that [his condition] in the next couple of days and then he's an option against Dortmund, but he's not going to start, that's for sure.

"He is doing well. I have good expectations that he can fill a position in the squad against Dortmund, it would be great to have him, and not so great for the opponent.

"I haven't decided 100 per cent, but Serge is certainly a candidate there. We have to see also what we will do against Dortmund, and what happens with Thomas.

"I've known Serge for ages and I think a lot of him. He doesn't worry too much on the field and plays freely. We have a good connection with each other."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.