As of the summer of 2019, the MWSL announced a change to our policy regarding minors in the league. In the wake of the abuse scandals with USA Gymnastics and several universities, Congress passed legislation commonly called “Safe Sport.” That legislation has a number of requirements of adults who have regular contact with youth players in the context of sports organizations. This includes adult leagues who allow players under age 18, which historically has been the case in the MWSL.
Because of recent updates to this legislation, the US Adult Soccer Association (USASA), which is the national governing body for the Minnesota Soccer Association and the MWSL, has implemented requirements of its member adult organizations that allow youth players. Those requirements state that all Board members of the league and all members of any team that includes a player under age 18 must a) take the Safe Sport Training and b) pass a background check. The Safe Sport Training is a three-hour online training offered at no charge to member organizations. The background check would cost each player approximately $35 to complete and requires the sharing of personal information, including Social Security numbers. In addition, the risk to the league and individual players/managers/Board members is significant because criminal penalties apply to violations of the Safe Sport legislation.
The burden on the league to implement and monitor these requirements is substantial. It’s also a huge burden for teams/players who would have to take the training and pay for the background check. As a result, the Board has made the very difficult decision to require all players to be 18 years of age or older to play in the MWSL. While we are disappointed to end a long-time tradition in the league of allowing teen-age players who may have no other place to play, the costs and risks are too significant for that accommodation to continue.
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