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National Women's Soccer (NWSL)

NWSL postpones weekend matches amid misconduct claims

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The National Women’s Soccer League on Friday postponed this weekend’s matches in the wake of misconduct allegations against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

Friday’s matches featuring the Washington Spirit at North Carolina and NJ/NY Gotham FC at Racing Louisville FC were postponed. The Orlando Pride’s match at Chicago Red Stars on Saturday also was postponed, along with the Houston Dash’s tilt at Kansas City and OL Reign’s encounter at Portland Thorns FC.

The Courage fired Riley on Thursday amid after allegations of sexual misconduct toward his players over the years.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played. I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement on the league’s website.

“Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect. Business as usual isn’t our concern right now. Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better. We have made this decision in collaboration with our players association and this pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue.”

The Athletic cited more than a dozen of Riley’s former players, including two who went on the record, Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, to detail the English coach’s pattern of behavior. Riley was alleged to have coerced Farrelly and other players to have sex with him, forced players to join in on nights of excessive drinking, sent some of them a lurid picture and manipulated them mentally and emotionally in other ways related to their playing time and status on the team.

The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association called for an investigation into Riley’s history.

Riley, 58, had coached women’s teams since 2006 and began coaching North Carolina in 2017.

Sean Nahas was named interim head coach of the Courage for the remainder of the season.

–Field Level Media

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