The U.S. Soccer Development Academy (“Development Academy”) is an elite player and National Team development program and competition that is conducted and administered by the United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (“U.S. Soccer” or “USSF”). The Development Academy program includes league and postseason competition, as well as other development-focused initiatives.
These Rules and Regulations, along with the Development Academy Membership Agreement, Development Academy Disciplinary Code, Development Academy Branding Guidelines, Development Academy Game Day Guide, the Development Academy Post-Season Guide, along with the U.S. Soccer Safe Soccer Framework, collectively form the “Development Academy Requirements” with which all clubs playing within the Development Academy must comply.
A. Safe Soccer Framework
U.S. Soccer is committed to making soccer the preeminent sport in the United States by serving athletes, our members, and their fans. U.S. Soccer’s Safe Soccer Framework, which incorporates policies mandated by federal law, the U.S. Olympic Committee (“USOC”) and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, represents a foundational structure for building a soccer community where all participants, be they athletes, coaches, referees, parents, administrators or volunteers, play an active role in creating a soccer atmosphere free of all forms of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct. The Safe Soccer Framework Handbook relies on the Amended SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements. All DA personnel are required to complete Core SafeSport training and yearly refreshers and acknowledge they have read and understand the Safe Soccer Framework prior to participating. Failure to comply will subject DA personnel and/or any athlete, referee or other participant to discipline.
Players age 18 years or older must complete the Core SafeSport Training and supply the certificate of completion. Any players who turn 18 during the 2019-20 season must also complete the Core SafeSport. Training by their 18th birthday. Any players who complete the training prior to their 18th birthday must also provide a parental consent form to be completed by the players’ parent/guardian. Please contact DA Staff to obtain a consent form.
For the 2019-2020 season, U.S. Soccer will be introducing player-focused training. Clubs are advised to monitor communications from DA Staff for more information.
B. How to Report a Concerns; Your Obligation to Report Under Federal Law
U.S. Soccer supports a culture of compliance, safety and respect. As part of this Safe Soccer Framework, U.S. Soccer encourages open communication in which all participants feel comfortable reporting concerns, whether the concerns involve suspected abuse or any other misconduct. Participants are encouraged to raise concerns to coaches, referees, team administrators and U.S. Soccer staff. DA Personnel are reminded of their obligation under the Federal Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act of 2017 (the “SafeSport Act”) to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of becoming aware of such information.
In addition, DA Personnel are required to promptly report to U.S. Soccer any matter reported to law enforcement and any other alleged violation of the Safe Soccer Framework. Failure to promptly report may lead to removal from the Development Academy.
We encourage you to report directly to the U.S. Center for SafeSport at www.safesport.org or to the U.S. Soccer Integrity Hotline to report concerns to give us the opportunity to address concerns that may arise in the soccer landscape:
C. Youth Referee Safety
The abuse and assault of referees is expressly prohibited by U.S. Soccer Policy 531-9, but a particular note is required regarding referees who are also minors. Youth Referees are trained game officials, and many are experienced players, but they are minor participants nonetheless and are therefore entitled to all of the protections extended to minor athletes by the Safe Soccer Framework. Without limiting the foregoing, wherever a policy in the Safe Soccer Framework includes protections for minor athletes or other participants, they should also be read as protecting any referee under the age of 18.
In addition, DA Personnel are responsible for ensuring a safe, respectful and appropriate environment for DA matches, which includes setting a tone of respect and deference toward match officials of any age. The responsibility for protecting this environment—and youth referees—rests with all adult DA Personnel, including without limitation coaches on the field, trainers, and Academy Directors.
These are some important rules you should know.