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NWSLPA demands action in wake of Paul Riley allegations: ‘The NWSL has failed us’

(Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

The NWSL Players Association is demanding the NWSL take action in the wake of a report by The Athletic detailing alleged sexual coercion and emotional abuse by Courage coach Paul Riley.

“Words cannot adequately capture our anger, pain, sadness and disappointment,” the NWSLPA wrote in a statement on Thursday. “To the players who suffer in silence, know that the Players Association holds a safe space for you. We stand ready to confidentially offer you resources and support.

“You are not alone.”

The PA added that they “refuse to be silent any longer.”

“We will no longer be complicit in a culture of silence that has enabled abuse and exploitation in our league and in our sport,” the statement continued. “The very lack of basic and fundamental protections that ensure dignity at work are part of what has led to stories like those that have come out this season.”

The accusations made against Riley follow multiple incidents this year involving violations of the NWSL’s Anti-Harassment Policy, which went into effect before the 2021 season.

As a result of Thursday’s report, the NWSLPA is demanding that the NWSL open an independent investigation into the allegations by Friday at 12 p.m. ET. They also are calling on the NWSL to investigate what enabled another club to hire Riley after the Portland Thorns investigated his conduct and did not renew his contract after the 2015 season.

Additionally, the NWSLPA demands that any league or club staff members who have been accused of conduct in violation of the anti-harassment policy be suspended and placed under investigation. That includes anyone who failed to report an alleged violation.