Members of the North Carolina Courage were not made available to the media following the team’s 3-1 win over Racing Louisville on Wednesday.
But that’s not to say the players haven’t made their feelings known about the controversy over accusations of sexual coercion and other misconduct by former Courage coach Paul Riley.
Six minutes into the game at Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park, players from both teams stopped, gathered in the midfield and tied their arms in solidarity with Meleana Shim and Sinead Farrelly, the two former players who made the allegations. against Riley.
“The players will come together in solidarity at the central circle for one minute in recognition of the six years it has taken Mana, Sinead and all those who fought too long to be heard,” said a statement released by the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association. , published before playing the game. “We call on the fans to remain silent with us. During this time, we ask that you remain in this pain and discomfort with us as we consider what too many of us have asked to sit for too long.
Shim and Farrelly, among others, accused Riley of a pattern of sexual coercion and other abuses of his leadership position in an investigative report released by The Athletic last week.
Riley, who denied the allegations, was later fired by Courage and replaced on an interim basis by assistant Sean Nahas. Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin and NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird also lost their jobs in response to demands from the players’ union asking the league to provide a safer working environment and a more reliable system for report abuse.
After postponing all of its matches over the weekend, the NWSL also formed an executive committee to handle oversight of its front office operations.
The incidents detailed by Farrelly and Shim allegedly took place while Riley was with the Portland Thorns in 2015, who investigated the coach while he was with the team and reported the results to the league. He was then sacked by the team.
Despite this, he was hired soon after by the Western New York Flash, which then moved to Cary in 2017.
The NWSL players union, which is currently negotiating what would be its first collective agreement with the league, has called for an investigation to find out how Riley was hired by another team after allegations of his misconduct surfaced as ‘he was with the Thorns.
The issue was addressed by Courage primary owner Steve Malik in an open letter posted Thursday afternoon.
“Following last week’s news, many of you were left with a key question: What did we know? Malik wrote. “When we purchased the Western NY Flash in 2017, we did our due diligence to continue with Mr. Riley and the coaching staff. We were made aware of an investigation into Mr. Riley’s behavior in 2015 and were subsequently assured that he was in good standing. During her employment with Courage, we were not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment or coercion. When we learned of the horrific allegations in last week’s report, we took them seriously and immediately fired Mr. Riley.
Malik added that he and his team supported Shim and Farrelly for their courage and apologized “for our part in failing to create an environment where players feel safe and comfortable to come forward.”
Once play resumed after the sixth-minute break, Courage took over with goals from Lynn Williams and Amy Rodriguez five minutes apart. Then, after Savannah McCaskill responded that Louisville was cutting the lead in half, Brazilian star Debinha – playing her first game since returning from the Tokyo Olympics – counted just before half-time to provide what came. turned out to be the final margin.