The National Women’s Soccer League has called off all matches scheduled for the weekend following the results of an investigation into sexual misconduct and harassment by North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.
Numerous players are outraged over the latest reports detailing claims that Riley coerced two Portland Thorns players into sexual acts during his tenure from 2013 to 2015.
The team has since fired Riley, making him the fourth coach in the league to be dismissed due to abuse, sexual misconduct or harassment allegations in the last year.
The decision to halt this weekend’s games was made jointly by the league and the NWSL Players Association, with Commissioner Lisa Baird issuing a statement after announcing the news.
“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,” Baird said.
“I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. 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 NWSL’s actions come after several players took to their social media accounts to criticize the ‘systemic abuse’ that plagues the league.
The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association also issued a list of three demands for the league on Thursday with a noon deadline for Friday’s collective bargaining meeting.
The demands include a new investigation into Riley, the suspension of any member of the league accused of violating the anti-harassment policy and full disclosure from the league about how Riley was re-hired following a previous abusive conduct investigation.