Soccer player

NWSL isn’t the only league where abuse is happening, ex-footballer says

(NewsNation now) — The National Women’s Soccer League’s record is a first for the league, but a longtime player says it’s not a first for women’s sport.

On February 25, 2019, Ciara McCormack decided that 11 years of waiting for the truth to be told was long enough.

“I kind of had enough in 2019, I wrote a blog and just laid out the whole story,” she said on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report.”

His position detailed abuse in the world of Canadian women’s soccer. “All I can say, with coaches from three different sports involving Canadian national team athletes across the country who have been convicted or charged with sex crimes in the past two years, it’s high time someone ‘one really cares and starts drawing attention to it,’ she wrote.

That blog post led fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the teams where she said abuse occurred, to stage three game walkouts that spring.

It was heartening, she said, to see people take her complaints seriously. But McCormack said there was still a lot to do.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 08: Ciara McCormack of the Jets controls the ball during the W-League Round 12 match between the Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United at Wanderers Oval on February 8, 2014 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

On “The Donlon Report,” she said she’s seen a lot of the same issues in stories coming out of the NWSL.

“You just have to focus on the catalysts, because a lot of these organizations find out about these situations, turn a blind eye, and allow these people to come back,” she said. “They should be held accountable for these kinds of decisions because it really puts the athletes at risk.”

McCormack said he saw other coaches get jobs after being accused of misconduct. “It was like being gassed for 11 years. It’s such a serious situation, but no one is doing anything.

At this point, the owner of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns has apologized for announcing the firing of Paul Riley in 2015 as a mutual decision to part ways, despite the team finding the abuse accusations credible against him.

The league canceled its scheduled games last weekend as players dealt with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, including sexual coercion, brought by two former players against Riley.

Riley was fired by Courage following last week’s report by The Athletic and US Soccer suspended his license.

Thorns owner Merritt Paulson, who also owns Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, issued an open letter to fans on Monday apologizing for the club’s lack of transparency in handling the matter.

“But we then made an opaque announcement about not renewing Riley’s contract instead of explicitly announcing his termination, guided by what we thought at the time was the right thing to do out of respect for the privacy of the players,” Paulson wrote. “I deeply regret our role in what is clearly a systemic failure in women’s professional football.”

So far, Riley, NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird, Washington Spirits CEO Steve Baldwin and coach Richie Burke have all quit or been fired.

Telling his story wasn’t easy two years ago, and McCormack knows it isn’t easy for players today. She said on “The Donlon Report” that she hopes everything leaves the game in a better place.

“I think our whole motivation is just to make sure that all the little kids that come in never have to go through the kind of things that we’ve been through.”

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