NWSL announces ‘commitment to systemic transformation’

(Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

The NWSL has revealed a plan for “systemic transformation” amid widespread allegations of abuse and harassment within the league. The announcement comes three days after the North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley following a report in which former players accused him of emotional abuse and sexual coercion.

In place of Lisa Baird, who resigned from her position as commissioner on Friday, the NWSL has formed a new executive committee comprised of the Orlando Pride’s Amanda Duffy, Kansas City’s Angie Long and OL Reign’s Sophie Sauvage. The league has also begun a global search for a permanent commissioner.

The committee will oversee the launch of multiple investigative and reform initiatives aimed at protecting NWSL players and staff. Their goal is to give athletes “the agency and ability to safely report misconduct of any form.”

Covington & Burling will oversee the investigations and make recommendations upon their conclusion. Amanda Kramer, former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will lead the firm’s efforts and report directly to the new executive committee.

Among the initiatives the NWSL has set forth are an independent review of practices and policies at the league and club levels, comprehensive policies and procedures created for the league and all member clubs, a reopening of the 2015 investigation into the allegations made against Riley, and the continuation of current and ongoing investigations initiated under the league’s anti-harassment policy.

The NWSL has also partnered with RealResponse, a platform that will allow current players and staff to anonymously report issues in regard to their health and safety.

The league has been dealing with widespread fallout since The Athletic reported the allegations against Riley last week. Both FIFA and US Soccer have launched investigations into the NWSL as Baird resigned and general counsel Lisa Levine also left her post. The league did not play any games over the weekend in order to address the systemic issues at hand.