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Oregon Women’s Soccer Players Claim Abuse Against Head Coach Graeme Abel

Oregon Women’s Soccer Players Claim Abuse Against Head Coach Graeme Abel Oregon Women’s Soccer Players Claim Abuse Against Head Coach Graeme Abel

Athletes on the women's soccer team at the University of Oregon have spoken out about the abuse they faced at the hands of head coach Graeme Abel

The Oregonian/OregonLive talked to 12 former players who played under Abel, six of whom transferred after their most recent season. The Ducks didn't win a single game in the 2023 season and they went 0-16-3. They scored nine goals in the entire season. This horrendous record isn't much worse than other seasons. Graeme Abel started with the Ducks for the 2020-2021 season and currently holds an overall record of 19-33-21 across his four seasons.

One player recounted, “I remember meeting girls at the beginning of the season, and they were very happy-go-lucky and optimistic, and by the time the season was over they were crying in the locker room every day. Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

The Abuse

Abel has had players dropping like flies after their fall season, with 12 out of 29 rostered players transferring. All of the anonymous players who spoke to The Oregonian stated that they left Oregon because of Graeme Abel. Former players recounted the abuse they faced from their coach. 

One player told The Oregonian/OregonLive, “He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming. He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You're just (expletive) wrong.' And that if we didn't want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he'd sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

Graeme Abel responded with a statement saying “At no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching. I am a believer in the rewarding of individuals and not the punishment of revoking.”

Oregon stated that they did a postseason review of the program due to complaints from players, but they “found no evidence of verbal abuse from Abel or issues that warranted additional action from the university.”

Abel is not a first-time coach. He coached alongside former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis where he was a part of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup winning teams. One would expect more from his coaching style and overall record.

All players who spoke to The Oregonian/OregonLive requested anonymity, but here are some of the players who publicly announced their transfer decisions after the 2023 season: 

Ryann Reynolds, Ajanae Respass, and Alice Barbieri topped the Ducks' stats board in 2023, and of the nine total goals scored in the season, 6 of them were scored by players who have since transferred. Unless Graeme Abel can whip out some wizardry in his recruiting, it's not looking too good for the Ducks next season. 

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