Oct. 1 (Reuters) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) fired Commissioner Lisa Baird following a report detailing allegations of misconduct against former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.
Athletics Thursday had described allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct on the part of Riley, who led Courage to back-to-back NWSL championships in 2018 and 2019, after speaking to more than a dozen players he coached since 2010. read more
Riley, who reportedly denied any wrongdoing, was fired by Courage and the league. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I’m so sorry for the pain that so many people are feeling,” Baird said in a written statement hours before handing in his resignation and announcing that the league’s weekend game list would not continue.
âRecognizing this trauma, we decided not to go to the field this weekend to give everyone a space for reflection.
“Business as usual is not our concern at the moment. Our whole league has a lot of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better.”
General Counsel Lisa Levine has also been sacked, according to Athletic.
The report sent shockwaves through the sport and the players’ association demanded sweeping changes in the league, as some of football’s most prominent figures – including two-time World Cup winners and players from the NWSL Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan – expressed outrage.
“This break will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue,” added Baird.
US Soccer said it will immediately launch an independent investigation into the allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct.
âThe safety and respect for the players is the primary responsibility of everyone involved in this game,â said US Soccer President Cindy Cone.
“This is true for all ages, competitions and skill levels.”
Athletic’s report came days after another league head coach, Richie Burke of the Washington Spirit, was fired for cause. He had previously been suspended following allegations of abuse detailed by the Washington Post.
Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge, Ken Ferris and Michael Perry
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