New Zealand national team coach Tom Sermanni had some choice words for the Orlando Pride and North Carolina Courage this weekend.
Sermanni called out the NWSL teams after they denied the release of New Zealand internationals Ali Riley and Abby Erceg ahead of the Olympics.
“It’s unprofessional, unethical and shows a complete lack of respect for the players and New Zealand football. In fact, it reeks of discrimination,” Sermanni told ESPN.
Riley and Erceg are the only Tokyo-bound athletes from Orlando and North Carolina to leave after the clubs’ weekend matches. North Carolina’s Debinha and Orlando’s Marta, playing for Brazil in Tokyo, were absent from their teams’ rosters this weekend.
“These athletes are all going to the same major tournament and those clubs have released every single Olympic athlete except for the New Zealanders,” Sermanni said.
The Pride responded to Sermanni’s comments on Saturday.
“The release date of each player is evaluated on an individual basis, factoring the respective national team’s request, the FIFA required release date, the decisions made by other teams in the National Women’s Soccer League as well as the input of the player,” a team spokesperson said. “Claims of discrimination in this matter are simply unfounded.”
Riley and Erceg are set to arrive in Japan on Monday, only two days before the country’s warm-up game against Great Britain.