The Afghanistan Women’s National Team

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Modern football is a funny thing. Players are brands. Coaches are heads of state. And a club in China is willing to spend $64 million on Oscar. As Dickens said, portending that Oscar transfer specifically… Best of Times. Worst of Times.

Last week, we spoke with Haley Carter, goalkeeping coach and assistant manager for the Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team. Carter also happens to be a United States Naval Academy Graduate, two-time Iraq veteran, former NWSL goalkeeper for the Houston Dash, and, as she proudly points out, a mother and wife. While the conversation left us feeling even more inadequate than usual, the story she told was one that drove home our long standing belief that football is often the least important, most important part of life. Or as Haley put it so beautifully, “This little speck of optimism in a really chaotic world.”

After our interview, we produced a short digital video about the Afghanistan WNT, its history, the challenges players face, and the hope it provides for women across that nation. WATCH IT HERE.

As Haley says in the video, “The bottom line here is we’re talking life and death to be able to play this game.”

The team’s players are scattered around the globe with roughly a third coming from Afghanistan itself, a third coming from Europe and a third from North America. Despite what Haley called tremendous support from the Afghanistan Football Federation, funding for the team is tight, and they can rarely afford to get together for training camps. As a result, they rely heavily on funding from outside sources. The team has partnered with Soccer Without Borders in an effort to raise money. CLICK HERE for more on how you can help, and more on the team’s story. #Courage

How to watch, stream sports on USA Network after NBCSN shuts down on January 1st

Find out how to watch NBC Sports on Peacock and USA Network
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Starting Saturday, January 1st, 2022, a significant slate of NBC Sports programming and events will appear on USA Network as NBCSN ceases operations.

Sports action that will appear on USA in 2022 includes coverage from the Premier League, NASCAR, INDYCAR, the Olympic Games, USGA and the R&A Golf Championships, college and Olympic sports, horse racing, cycling, and more. Many of these sports will continue to have programming on the NBC broadcast network. In addition, most linear coverage can be streamed via authentication on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (all PGA TOUR events remain exclusively on NBC or GOLF Channel).

USA Network’s 2022 sports calendar officially kicks off on January 1st with a Premier League tripleheader to start the New Year on the right foot. The slate of matches starts with a top-of-the-table showdown with Arsenal taking on defending champions Manchester City.

NBC Sports Programming on USA Network in 2022:

  • The Winter Olympics

  • Premier League

  • Horse Racing

  • NASCAR: Cup and Xfinity Series races

  • Olympic sports

  • Supercross

  • The R&A – The Open, AIG Women’s Open: Early round and weekend lead-in coverage

  • Tour de France

  • USGA – U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open: Early round and weekend lead-in coverage

  • Atlantic 10 basketball

  • IMSA

  • INDYCAR: Two races

  • Monster Jam

How to Stream NBC Sports on Peacock:

Sports fans can stream games and events live on Peacock, including Sunday Night Football, all Notre Dame football home games, Premier League, NASCAR, golf, and much more. In 2022, Peacock will continue to offer an array of live sports coverage including Super Bowl LVI and competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Peacock also features studio programming, original series, and documentaries, and full-event replays, and is available across a variety of devices and platforms, with the full list available here. To learn more about sports on Peacock and how to sign up, visithttps://www.peacocktv.com/sports.

Premier League Schedule on USA on New Year’s Day:

On New Year’s Day, USA Network presents a tripleheader as it becomes the cable home of the Premier League. Premier League Mornings kicks off at 7:00 am ET ahead of the first matches of 2022, and the action on the pitch starts with Arsenal vs Manchester City at 7:30 am ET. Here is the full slate on USA on New Year’s Day, streaming on the NBC Sports App:

  • Arsenal vs Manchester City

  • Watford vs Tottenham

  • Crystal Palace vs West Ham

Premier League action on USA continues Sunday, January 2nd starting at 8:00 am ET and will be highlighted by Chelsea vs Liverpool at 11:30 am ET. Content is also available for streaming on Peacock.

RELATED: How to watch, stream Premier League on USA Network after NBCSN shuts down

NWSL Commissioner Baird resigns amid scandal

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National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned after some 19 months on the job amid allegations that a former coach engaged in sexual harassment and misconduct.

Baird’s resignation was announced by the league late Friday, a day after The Athletic published the accounts of two former players who claimed misconduct, including sexual coercion, by North Carolina coach Paul Riley.

Riley was fired by the Courage on Thursday and the allegations touched off a wave of condemnation by players that forced this weekend’s games to be called off.

Additionally, FIFA on Friday opened an investigation into the case. It is rare that soccer’s international governing body gets involved in a controversy involving a member association. U.S. Soccer also announced an independent investigation on Friday.

U.S. Soccer was instrumental in founding the NWSL in 2013 and helped support the league until last year, when it became independent. The federation continues its financial support of the league.

“Player safety and respect is the paramount responsibility of every person involved in this game. That is true across every age, competition and ability level,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Cone said in a statement. “We owe it to each athlete, each fan and the entire soccer community to take every meaningful action in our power to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

U.S. Soccer suspended Riley’s coaching license Thursday after The Athletic published claims of abuse made by former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim.

FIFA told The Associated Press it was “deeply concerned” by the case and will now be seeking further details from American soccer authorities about the issues raised.

“Due to the severity and seriousness of the allegations being made by players, we can confirm that FIFA’s judicial bodies are actively looking into the matter and have opened a preliminary investigation,” FIFA said in a statement to the AP. “As part of this, FIFA will be reaching out to the respective parties, including US Soccer and NWSL, for further information about the various safeguarding concerns and allegations of abuse that have been raised.”

The alleged harassment of Farrelly started in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer league.

She told the website the harassment continued when Farrelly was with the Portland Thorns. Shim, a former Thorns player, also allegedly experienced harassment. The Thorns said Thursday that the team investigated claims about Riley and passed those on to the league when he was dismissed.

Riley told The Athletic the allegations were “completely untrue.”

Outcry over the allegations rocked the league and forced this weekend’s games to be called off. The NWSL Players’ Association said it hoped fans would understand and support the decision.

“It is OK to take space to process, to feel and to take care of yourself,” the union said. “In fact, it’s more than OK, it’s a priority. That, as players, will be our focus this weekend.”

Baird became commissioner of the NWSL in February, 2020, after serving as chief marketing officer of the United States Olympic Committee. She was praised for brining new sponsors to the NWSL and increasing the league’s visibility on the national stage.

OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock, who has been playing in the NWSL since its inception in 2013, suggested the league, and women’s sports overall, are in the midst of a reckoning.

“I think women athletes specifically have gone through so much over the years, not just women’s football,” Fishlock said. “I think everybody knows what’s happened with USA Gymnastics that has gone on, and this is something that has been happening in women’s sports over and over and over again for years and years and years. And we’ve never felt safe enough to talk about it, and if we ever felt brave enough to talk about it, then it would just get swept under the rug, or we were told that we were in the wrong … and I think we’re at a point now where we’re just done.”

Riley was head coach of the Thorns in 2014 and 2015. After he was let go by the Thorns, he became head coach of the Western New York Flash for a season before the team was sold and moved to North Carolina.

In its ninth season, the NWSL has been rocked by a series of recent scandals involving team officials.

Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired after a Washington Post report detailed verbal and emotional abuse of players. The league formally dismissed Burke and sanctioned the Spirit on Tuesday after an independent investigation.

Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue was fired in July after an investigation connected to the league’s antiharassment policy. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly was fired in September but the reasons for his dismissal were not made public.

OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti abruptly resigned in July. On Friday, OL Reign chief executive officer and minority owner Bill Predmore said Benstiti was asked to step down after an undisclosed incident during practice.

Benstiti had previously been accused by U.S. national team midfielder Lindsay Horan of sexist behavior during his time as coach of Paris Saint-Germain. Horan has said she was berated by Benstiti because of her weight.