Portland Thorns players release update on investigation

(Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Portland Thorns players provided an update on the Thorns’ independent investigation into the club’s conduct regarding former coach Paul Riley.

In a statement released Monday, Thorns players said the club had conducted an internal business review of soccer operations.

“We believe the club facilitated the most thorough investigation they legally could at this time,” the players wrote. “At the request of the NWSL and the NWSLPA, both past and current Thorns players were not allowed to be interviewed. When we are allowed to do so, players may choose to be interviewed and we’ve been ensured that the investigation will be reopened.”

According to the statement, Gavin Wilkinson will be reinstated as Thorns president. The club has also adopted a “confidential and anonymous reporting system, engaged with a diversity and inclusion expert, and will require all managers at the club to partake in yearly anti-harassment training.”

The NWSL Players Association issued a statement of their own on Monday night, specifying that Portland’s review isn’t affiliated with the NWSL and NWSLPA’s joint investigation into misconduct within the league.

“The joint investigative team’s work remains ongoing,” wrote the NWSLPA.

Portland came under fire in late September after The Athletic detailed allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse against Riley while he was coach of the Thorns.

At the time, Thorns owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement that the club severed ties with Riley in 2015 after conducting an internal investigation into his conduct. The NWSL and the NWSLPA also agreed to open an investigation into cases of alleged abuse throughout the league.

On the heels of the report, Thorns players released a statement demanding Wilkinson be placed on leave until the investigation was completed. They also demanded for more diverse voices on the club’s executive board and for players to be a part of front-office discussions.

In early November, the club named Karina Leblanc general manager, a position previously occupied by Wilkinson.