Following the resignation of the National Women’s Football League commissioner amid a long-standing coach-related sexual harassment and misconduct scandal, a three-woman executive committee has been formed to oversee league operations.
Portland, Ore. – Following the resignation of the National Women’s Football League commissioner amid a long-standing coach-related sexual harassment and misconduct scandal, a three-woman executive committee has been formed to oversee league operations.
The NWSL also launched an independent investigation on Sunday to deal with the abuse claims. The league suffered a setback this week when two former players came forward with allegations of harassment, including sexual assault, against North Carolina Courage coach Raul Riley.
Riley was promptly fired by Courage, and both FIFA and US Soccer began an investigation into why he was able to continue coaching even after the league brought up players’ concerns.
The NWSL called off its games this weekend and Baird stepped down on Friday night.
In addition to the NWSL announcement, US Soccer said it has retained former US Attorney and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to lead an investigation into abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional football. Yates now works in private practice.
In a statement, the federation said, “US Soccer takes seriously its responsibility to vigorously investigate reported abhorrent conduct, gain a full and clear understanding of those factors, and take meaningful steps to prevent this from happening in the future.” “
The league’s board of governors appointed an executive committee composed of Amanda Duffy, Angie Long and Sophie Sauvage until a new commissioner was named.
“On behalf of the league as a whole, we are shocked that so many players have suffered just to play their favorite sport, and we are deeply sorry,” the trio said in a joint statement on Sunday. “We understand that we must make a significant systemic and cultural change in order to address the issues necessary for the NWSL to become the type of league that players and their fans deserve and to gain the trust of both.”
The league retained an outside firm to investigate the allegations and report to the Executive Committee. The investigation covers claims against Riley as well as all other historical complaints of discrimination, harassment or abuse.
The NWSL, in its ninth year, also said it was conducting an independent review of practices and policies among its teams. Additionally, comprehensive policies and procedures will be adopted to ensure “an orderly, transparent and effective handling of any harassment or workplace conduct issues”.
A secure and anonymous reporting platform was established so that players and employees could report misconduct.
While NWSL games were called off this weekend, Portland supporters set off smoke bombs in the 25th minute of the Major League Soccer match between the Portland Timbers and Inter Miami. A large sign was displayed that read: Trust, Support and Protect NWSL Players.”
Supporters were also scheduled to rally Sunday night outside Lumen Field in Seattle, where the Sounders prepare to play the Colorado Rapids.
US Soccer suspended Riley’s coaching license on Thursday after The Athletic published claims of abuse made by former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim.
Farrelly’s alleged harassment began in 2011 when she was a player with the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer League’s Philadelphia Independence.
She told the website that while she was with the Portland Thorns the harassment was ongoing. Former Thorns player Shim also reportedly experienced harassment. The Thorns said on Thursday that the team had investigated the claims about Riley and that he was relegated to the league when he was dismissed.
Riley told The Athletic that the allegations were “completely untrue”.
Riley was the head coach of Thornes in 2014 and 2015. After being let go by the Thornes, he became head coach of the Western New York Flash for one season before the team was sold and moved to North Carolina.
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