NWSL: All games postponed this weekend after coach sexual misconduct allegations

Alex Morgan

The National Women’s Soccer League has postponed all of this weekend’s games following the allegations of sexual misconduct against former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.

The English-born coach was sacked on Thursday after an investigation conducted by The Athletic was made public.

More than a dozen players coached by Riley came forward to speak to The Athletic, including Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim –– who went on the record to detail their former coach’s pattern of behaviour.

Farrelly claimed Riley coerced her into having sex with him while both were at the Portland Thorns, while she also accused her former coach of forcing her to kiss Shim at his apartment.

Riley has denied the accusations.



NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird stated: “I’m so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognising that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect.

“Business as usual isn’t our concern right now. Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better.

“This pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue.”

Farrelly’s former Thorns teammate Alex Morgan, has criticised Baird for her statement, saying the commissioner had known of the allegations since April.

She posted a three-part Tweet which read: “The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations. The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse.”

US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe echoed Morgan’s words –– emphasising the statement was “beyond disrespectful.”

“Never once during this whole time was the right person protected,” she said. “Not Mana, not Sinead, not us not the players not the little girls who will become us not the big girls who already are us not any of US. This statement is beyond disrespectful.”

FIFA’s judicial bodies have opened an investigation into the allegations and said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

Riley led the Courage to back-to-back NWSL championships in 2018 and 2019 but has now had his coaching licence suspended following The Athletic’s report.

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