CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The National Women’s Soccer League season is now on hold. The games scheduled for this weekend were canceled amid allegations of sexual misconduct against a prominent coach.
According to a report from The Athletic, two former players, Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, have accused North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion and more. On Thursday, Riley was fired from the team and his coaching license was suspended by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Dr. Robi Ludwig said on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report” there needs to be a level of responsibility to check out who these coaches are.
“We need to look at the whole person. If someone is damaging as a coach, if somebody is behaving inappropriately, abusing their power, that is not OK,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig said coaches who work in high-level sports are typically granted high levels of power over young athletes.
The athletes, she said, “are basically taught to listen to their coach, to do what they are told, to think of themselves as family, and what happens and whatever is said impacts the whole group. So you can see that there’s something about the system that also adds to the secrecy.”
According to the report, the former players accuse Riley of inappropriate conduct beginning in 2011. The accusations span three teams and three leagues. So far, Riley has denied “the majority” of the claims detailed in the report.
Ludwig said she is glad that more women are calling out their alleged sexual harassers and abusers.
“The good thing is that we’re starting to hear about these stories, so we can start to look at it and figure out a structural way to reduce this from happening.”
On Friday, NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine were ousted by the league’s board of directors, according to multiple sources.
The U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement on Friday that it would immediately launch an investigation into the allegations by Riley. FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has also opened an investigation into the matter.
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