‘Women need to be taken seriously’: Beth Mead sickened by US abuse report

<span>Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA</span>
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Beth Mead has said the Lionesses are in contact with the USA team about how they will show solidarity with players in the States after the publication of a report that found sexual misconduct and emotional abuse to be “systemic” there.

Mead, named on Thursday as England’s player of the year, said before Friday’s meeting of the European champions and world champions at a sold-out Wembley: “I was quite sickened when I found out. It’s a worldwide problem. Women need to be taken seriously a lot more. I’m proud of the victims that stood up. People need to start doing better.

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“We’re in contact with the USA team and some of the players. We are working on something on our support of them.”

England’s manager, Sarina Wiegman, said her first reaction to the report was that it was “horrible and unacceptable”. She said: “I feel very sorry for all the victims and it should stop immediately, of course. I think it’s a worldwide problem still. It’s time we will step up and stop these things.”

Mead believes England players feel more empowered to speak about off-field issues than they did in the past. “We feel we have a good platform to make a difference,” the forward said, citing the squad writing to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak when they were Conservative party leadership candidates, calling for equal access to football in school for girls. “We wrote the letter about PE in schools. We want to use our platform for the greater good of the women’s game and women’s sport in general.”

Friday’s friendly will be the teams’ first meeting since the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020, when the US won 2-0, eight months after they knocked England out of the World Cup semi-finals in France. “We took it [the defeat] hard but it’s made us more hungry and motivated to prove ourselves against a world-class American team,” said Mead. “We’re looking forward to seeing where we are.”

Wiegman, who is without the captain, Leah Williamson, the striker Alessia Russo and the defender Lucy Parker because of injuries, said: “We want to win the game but we also want to see how we can do. Then we have 10 months to the World Cup.

“The European game is getting closer and closer [to the US]. We’re not only thinking in results. Yes, we want to win, but we hope we can dominate the game. You have to perform at the highest level and these games give you the best information. We can play lower teams and score lots but it doesn’t give you the picture you need to prepare for next year.”