A 9,473-word story posted by The Athletic on Thursday detailing years worth of sexual coercion, harassment, abuse and inappropriate comments from fired North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley has caused an uproar in women’s soccer in the U.S.
Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, two former NWSL players, shared their horrifying experiences under Riley. The NWSL Players Association has released a statement of support for Farrelly, Shim and any other players who have gone through similar situations. The statement said that the NWSL failed its players and includes a list of demands from the league.
SYSTEMIC ABUSE PLAGUING THE NWSL MUST NOT BE IGNORED pic.twitter.com/WlhcWW7R8m
League Commissioner Lisa Baird released a statement several hours after the news broke.
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) September 30, 2021
Here are how players and people are reacting to the news.
Men, protecting men, who are abusing women. I’ll say it again, men, protecting men, who are ABUSING WOMEN. Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll. https://t.co/iHg3JlVVe0
Let. It. Burn. https://t.co/rW4ocYeb6n
Mana & Sinead you are so strong & we are with you❤️To everyone in a position of power who let this happen, heard it & dismissed it, signed off on this monster moving to another team w/zero repercussions,FUCK YOU,you’re all monsters,& can ALL hand your resignations in immediately. https://t.co/TcI958ytP2
Never once during this whole time was the right person protected. 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. https://t.co/HDPkFhFEc6
Mana and Sinead, we support you and are in your corner. I am sickened and have too many thoughts to share at this moment. Bottom line: protect your players. Do the right thing @NWSL https://t.co/7TGymLLrvn
(1/3)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. https://t.co/KDRBhhVBcT
— Samantha Mewis (@sammymewy) September 30, 2021
Protect players! Protect women!— Crystal Dunn | Soubrier | (@Cdunn19) September 30, 2021
Do not ignore this. https://t.co/Qb3RJ9SLA1— Becky Sauerbrunn (@beckysauerbrunn) September 30, 2021
https://t.co/XrV2EQA0oL pic.twitter.com/PjMt8l20ZC— Becky Sauerbrunn (@beckysauerbrunn) September 30, 2021
Protect the players. Protect women. It’s everyone’s responsibility to hold the standards and enforce accountability. Why are we still dealing with these mostly male transgressions? This is unacceptable. @NWSL— Christine Sinclair (@sincy12) September 30, 2021
NWSL is such a joke.League wants to see themselves as the best in the world but with this shit that keeps coming we won’t be more than just a massive joke for the rest of the world. The rest of the world is laughing. We’re nothing but a joke..
The players deserve more.
— Nadia Nadim (@nadia_nadim) September 30, 2021
Making their own bogus investigation, keeping it confidential, and then keep having the back of people that’s doing wrong have to stop.— Nadia Nadim (@nadia_nadim) September 30, 2021
I never been harassed, but when a certain club forged my signature to fake an extended option, to gain benefits from a trade, and we submit the proof to the league they did care less. They did absolute zero. ZERO.— Nadia Nadim (@nadia_nadim) September 30, 2021
Abuse of any kind has no place in the game. Suspend him immediately. Get him away from players. Get any staff who was aware of this behavior and failed to report it away from players. This is a zero tolerance matter. @meghannburke and @nwsl_players are spot on. https://t.co/UcK98HBOyJ— Haley Carter - هیلی کارتر (@H_C_Carter) September 30, 2021
Thinking of all my friends, former teammates, and all players in the NWSL. What they’re having to deal with is far, far beyond reason or understanding. Protect your players.— Janine Beckie (@janinebeckie) September 30, 2021
WE WILL NOT LET THIS CONTINUE. https://t.co/5MzHjq0Kbk— Rachel Corsie (@RachelCorsie14) September 30, 2021
Heart is heavy. Thank you to those who shared their stories, can’t fathom how hard this had to be to relive and share with the world. But it won’t be for nothing. We will fight for you and the other players, past and present, who have been in similar horrible experiences. https://t.co/poOqiQ3K8l— Nikki Stanton (@GutiNikki7) September 30, 2021
The initial behaviour, the actual abuse & intended harm is bad enough. It’s disgusting.For those who sat back, covered it up.. protected the abuser & not those abused.. you are evil.
My heart hurts for all those abused. Your bravery is for all those to see.
it’s stops now.
— Jessica Fishlock MBE (@JessFishlock) September 30, 2021
Thank you Mana and Sinead and all the others for your bravery. A must read from @itsmeglinehan ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Get em out. https://t.co/ADpiLV3ZH2— Lori Lindsey (she/her) ️ (@LoriLindsey6) September 30, 2021
Yael Averbuch West
Thank you to the players who so bravely came forward to share their personal experiences. The entirety of NWSL is responsible for the safety of our members, and we MUST do more and be better on their behalf. https://t.co/RDujjMIphF— Yael Averbuch West (@Yael_Averbuch) September 30, 2021
We MUST protect our players!Enough is enough!
— Scott Parkinson (@parkinson_scott) September 30, 2021
Shocked, disgusted, disappointed, embarrassed, & livid.To Sinead Farrelly, Mana Shim, Kaiya McCullough, & any player that was disrespected I’m heartbroken & fucking angry for you.
We cannot thrive as a league without facing truths, taking accountability, & making changes. https://t.co/ZyujkijECn
— Sara Toussaint (@SaraToussaint) September 30, 2021
Lisa Baird. Merritt Paulson. Nancy Garcia Ford? Who else knew about Paul Riley's abuse and let him continue to abuse players? Who else chose to protect him rather than players? Resign. ALSO WHAT OTHER COACHES ARE ABUSING PLAYERS? #NWSL https://t.co/Yq19qEpMbz— Glennon Doyle (@GlennonDoyle) September 30, 2021
United States Soccer Federation
This is now official: pic.twitter.com/AOVqpzP2F4— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 30, 2021
Angel City FC
NWSL Players deserve better and we stand by you. We will not and are not ignoring this. https://t.co/NzZyTxBmUg— Angel City FC (@weareangelcity) September 30, 2021
We want to thank Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly for bravely speaking out and fully apologize to them for our role in the abuse they detailed.— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 30, 2021
North Carolina Courage
Official statement from the players, staff and principal owner the North Carolina Courage. pic.twitter.com/jsY2GtXU9Y— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) September 30, 2021
NY/NJ Gotham FC
Speaking out and speaking up is how conditions will improve for professional women’s’ soccer. The time is now. https://t.co/HuhOMcSAD1— NJ/NY Gotham FC (@GothamFC) September 30, 2021
— KC NWSL (@KCWoSo) September 30, 2021
The Uproar (NC Courage Supporters Group)
We demand Paul Riley step down immediately and a new, independent investigation started into the allegations against him. We demand any staff who was aware of this behavior and failed to report it also be suspended.— The Uproar (@UproarNC) September 30, 2021