Orlando Pride and United States forward Alex Morgan have called on the National Women’s Soccer League to end the “systemic failure” that has allowed a decade of alleged sexual misconduct of players by some of the league’s coaches. created.
Morgan’s comments on Tuesday came days after North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley amid allegations of sexual coercion and inappropriate comments about players’ weight and sexual orientation.
On Thursday, the Athletic released claims of abuse by former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, in addition to more than a dozen players from every team Riley has coached since 2010.
“I’m here to support Mana and Sinead and continue to amplify their voices, and just show the systemic failure of the competition and how wrong they’ve done in handling Mana’s case and complaint and investigation and where they put Mana and Sinead.” Sinead failed, and probably many other women,” Morgan said on NBC’s Today show.
“Looking back, I tried to be the best friend and teammate for Mana by helping her file a complaint, when at the time there was no anti-harassment policy, there was no league HR, there was no anonymous hotline, there was no way to report.
“We have now started to put these things in place, at the request of players, not because the league is proactive. Something we are asking is that the competition start to become proactive, not reactive. We ask for transparency.”
Shim addressed the harassment she experiences as one of Riley’s players and made a renewed call for better protection for athletes.
“He’s a predator. He sexually harassed me, he sexually coerced Sinead and took our careers away,” Shim said. “From the beginning there was not only possession from Paul, but also from the team I played for. They silenced me because of multiple issues, my sexuality was the main one, and yes, I just felt really uncomfortable all the time .
“And every day I showed up at work, every day I practiced, every game I played, I had no confidence and I was scared. The only thing that helped me through it were my teammates.”
Farrelly said taking up her accusations gave her “pain a purpose” and continues to hope that real change will be the result.
“The support and endorsement of this story by everyone worldwide has just been blown me away and really felt like it has given my pain a purpose,” said Farrelly. “Mana and Alex and a few other women we’ve worked with, and everyone who has reached out and shown support, has made this moment a movement and a business.
“They’ve really boosted our voices and made this what it should be, which is a huge problem and demands change.”
The allegations led to the resignation of NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird after some 19 months on the job last week and the postponement of all games scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
FIFA also opened an investigation into the case on Friday. It is rare for football’s international governing body to become involved in a controversy involving a member association. US Soccer also announced an independent investigation on Friday.
US Soccer played an important role in the founding of the NWSL in 2013 and helped the league until last year when it became independent. The federation continues its financial support to the competition.
“The safety and respect of the player is the utmost responsibility of every person involved in this game. That goes for every age, league and skill level,” Cindy Cone, president of American football, said in a statement. “We owe it to every athlete, every fan and the entire football community to take every meaningful action in our power to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
FIFA told the Associated Press it was “deeply concerned” about the matter and will now request further details from US football authorities about the issues raised.
“Due to the seriousness and seriousness of the allegations made by players, we can confirm that FIFA’s judicial authorities are actively investigating the matter and have opened a preliminary investigation,” FIFA said in a statement to the AP. “As part of this, FIFA will contact the respective parties, including US Soccer and NWSL, for more information about the various security vulnerabilities and allegations of abuse that have been made.”
Farrelly’s alleged harassment began in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer League.
She told the website that the bullying continued while Farrelly was with the Portland Thorns. Shim, a former Thorns player, is also said to have faced harassment. The Thorns said on Thursday that the team investigated claims about Riley and passed them on to the league when he was fired.
Riley told the Athletic the allegations were “completely false”.
Outrage over the allegations rocked the league and forced this weekend’s games to be canceled. The NWSL Players’ Association said it hoped fans would understand and support the decision.
“It’s okay to take the space to process, feel and take care of yourself,” the union said. “Actually, it’s more than okay, it’s a priority. That’s what we as players will focus on this weekend.”
On Tuesday, the NWSL’s Players Union issued a statement in support of the players and confirmed that the games would go ahead as planned.
“Today we stand with Mana, Sinead and Kaiya [McCullough] as they continue to tell their story. We have made the decision to go ahead with Wednesday night’s scheduled competition, but our demands will be met. #NoMoreSilence,” it read.