NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird has broken her silence on the allegations made against former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley. Riley has been accused of sexually coercing and emotionally abusing multiple players. He was fired by the Courage on Thursday.
pic.twitter.com/HJMogyALg1— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) September 30, 2021
“I was shocked and disgusted to read the new allegations reported in The Athletic this morning,” Baird wrote in a statement. “The league, in concert with the North Carolina Courage, has reacted swiftly in response to these new allegations, and former head coach Paul Riley has been terminated.”
Baird added that the NWSL is reporting the allegations to the US Center for SafeSport for investigation.
“A safe and secure work environment is a top priority for the league and its collective ownership,” she wrote.
In addition to the league’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy, Baird said that league and team staff who interact with players will be required to participate in training conducted by the US Center for SafeSport. Further background checks and additional screening will also be mandated for those individuals.
Baird said the NWSL will also implement a new anonymous reporting process, by which players, team and league staff will be able to text concerns to the league, which will be “promptly investigated.”
“We ask our players and all associated with the league to raise their concerns to us, as we continue to make our league a safe, positive and respectful environment for our players, clubs, staff, and fans,” Baird wrote.
Baird’s statement is in response to a report published in The Athletic on Thursday detailing allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse against Riley. Following the report, the NWSLPA spoke out in support of the two players who came forward and demanded the NWSL take action. Many players have since followed suit with statements of their own.
The Portland Thorns also released a statement Thursday, acknowledging their investigation into Riley’s conduct following a complaint from a player in 2015, when Riley was head coach of the team.
pic.twitter.com/2Cag3yJxsq— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) September 30, 2021