National Women’s Soccer League games canceled after report of coach’s inappropriate conduct

Sports

In this Oct. 27, 2019, file photo, Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley watches from the sideline during the second half of an NWSL championship soccer game against the Chicago Red Stars in Cary, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

(NewsNation Now) — The scheduled weekend games of the National Women’s Soccer League will not be played.

The empty soccer fields are in apparent response to a recently published report by The Athletic detailing accusations of inappropriate conduct of former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley by former players.

The North Carolina Courage fired Riley on Thursday following “very serious allegations of misconduct,” the team announced.

The alleged misconduct, which includes claims of sexual coercion, stretched back more than a decade, according to the account by The Athletic.

“Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect,” National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “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.”

“Postponing the match is the right thing to do, given yesterday’s news,” the Chicago Red Stars said of the games being canceled.

“Never once during this whole time was the right person protected,” Megan Rapinoe reacted in a tweet.

Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan tweeted, “The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations. The league must accept responsibility.”

Baird said in a statement that the league is referring the allegations to the U.S. Center for SafeSport for investigation.

The league, in its ninth season, is also mandating that anyone who interacts with players participate in training with SafeSport and be subject to background checks and additional screening.

The NWSL is also implementing a new anonymous reporting process and vowed all reports would be promptly investigated.

“A safe and secure work environment is a top priority for the league and its collective ownership,” Baird said in the statement.

Check back as this story is developing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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