Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson says she and her teammates were “stunned” to learn of the sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League.
The Athletic released a report last week containing allegations of the behavior of Englishman Paul Riley by players he had coached in the US since 2010, including alleged sexual coercion.
Riley, who denies the allegations, was fired by NWSL side North Carolina Courage as head coach in light of the report, the league announced games scheduled for the weekend would not take place, and its commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.
The NWSL also announced that it has launched a number of “critical research and reform initiatives to protect players and staff”, while FIFA has opened a preliminary investigation.
Eriksson, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League game against Wolfsburg, said: “Of course we as players are keeping abreast of what is happening in the women’s football world and we are devastated to hear about these events that have took place in the NWSL.
“We just discussed it and talked about how horrific it is. It’s good that players are now brave enough to come forward and that these events are coming to light.”
The Swedish defender added: “I think I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve been in environments in Sweden and here at Chelsea where we are protected.
“I feel very safe and I haven’t experienced any of these events myself, or anyone around me. I know it’s out there, and I know it’s a big problem, also a social problem.
“Here at Chelsea we have a good system and we are well protected.
“I think there should be a good system for when players speak up. If something happened to them, they should have a channel to go to and be heard.”
‘We have a huge problem in society’ – Emma Hayes
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was also asked about the matter during the press conference, saying: “I think in general we are talking about improving things so that women feel safe and are not threatened on a daily basis.
“I think we need to talk about this happening in our daily lives, not just in a football environment. I hope, along with many others, that we continue to try to provide a safe space, not just in our environment but in society.”
“I don’t know the policy, the background in terms of where we can be for or behind the NWSL. What I know is that as a club we protect people in their place, we have welfare people in their place.
“To me you can’t just talk about anything in isolation – in society we have a huge problem in and around the way we treat women and I can’t just limit what I speak about football.”