Women’s football: a sexual assault scandal puts a stop to the North American championship

A championship day canceled, a North American Women’s Football League (NWSL) official resigning, internationals stepping up and now the launch of an investigation by the FIFA… This Thursday, the Anglo-Saxon sports media The Athletic revealed the suspicions which target the female football coach Paul Riley, accused of sexual abuse by two players. Two days later, the impact on the other side of the Atlantic is enormous.

Two former players, Sinead Farrelly and Meleana « Mana » Shim, told The Athletic that they have had to deal with Riley’s alleged inappropriate behavior on several occasions since 2011. Sacked Thursday by North Carolina Courage, he also saw his coaching license suspended by the American Federation, which also announced it was investigating.

Farrelly accused the 58-year-old Englishman of having subjected her to « forced sex » when he was at the head of Philadelphia Independence, in particular one evening, following a defeat in the final of a competition. After which he would have said to her: « We are taking this to our graves ». Farrelly and Shim also claimed that on another occasion, when Riley was coaching them with the Portland Thorns, he forced them to kiss in his apartment.

Support from Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe

The latter disputed these “completely false” allegations. « I never had sexual relations with these players, nor made them sexual advances, » he defended himself to the Anglo-Saxon media. He said he sometimes socialized with the players and paid bar bills, “but I don’t take them to drink. Riley also denied hosting movie shows in his hotel room.

Immediately, reactions of indignation poured in, also denouncing the passivity of the NSWL. « The League has been informed on multiple occasions and refused each time to investigate, » said the American international Alex Morgan, who played under Riley’s orders at the same time as the two accusers, supporting his About with screenshots of emails sent by Farrelly to the league.

The star, activist, Megan Rapinoe also expressed her anger: « To all those who are in the exercise of power and who let it happen, who heard and rejected, who allowed this monster to change teams without any repercussions. , fuck yourself, you are all monsters and you can ALL resign immediately ”.

« The League has a lot of things to fix »

The players’ union (NWSLPA) for its part denounced « a systemic abuse, a scourge for the League ». League Commissioner Lisa Baird initially promised to put in place an anonymous reporting process for players and staff. Then to transmit the file to the « US Center for SafeSport », so that this independent organization, mandated to fight against sexual abuse in sport in the United States, can investigate.

More and more in the heart of the turmoil, the manager finally admitted Friday morning to have shown too much passivity. The leader agreed that the « League (had) a lot of things to fix » especially as a few days before the outbreak of the Paul Riley affair, the body had terminated the contract of another coach (Richie Burke to the Washington Spirit), suspected of moral harassment and other abusive behavior. Lisa Baird finally chose to resign this Friday. A major decision but undoubtedly insufficient given the extent of the indignation.

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