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Portland Thorns supporters announce boycott, want GM Gavin Wilkinson gone


Portland Thorns’ supporters groups have announced a boycott of all concessions and team merchandise pending the resignation of GM Gavin Wilkinson.

The Rose City Riveters, the Timbers Army and the 107IST released a joint statement on Tuesday outlining their demands.

The Thorns were at the center of The Athletic’s report last week in which former players accused Paul Riley of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse spanning three teams and three leagues, including while he was coach of the Thorns. Portland severed ties with Riley after investigating his behavior in 2015 but didn’t reveal the reasons for his termination at the time.

“This past week has been harrowing as we learned the extent of abuse and suppression that has taken place in Portland,” the fan groups wrote in a statement. “It is clear that the Portland Thorns organization is complicit in the NWSL’s failures by actively sweeping incidents and complaints under the rug and passing issues off to others without holding offenders accountable. It is also abundantly evident that the PTFC leadership team knew about the incidents when they were reported in 2015. This is inexcusable.”

Thorns owner Merritt Paulson released a statement Monday in response to the recent report, saying the club mistakenly “made an opaque statement” about Riley’s departure in 2015 and he “deeply regrets” the role the Thorns played in the league’s failures.

Portland’s supporters’ groups don’t think Paulson’s statement went far enough, adding that the organization “has yet to make concrete changes to address their past failures.”

Among their demands is Wilkinson’s “immediate and complete removal” from the organization, including the youth academies. They also ask that the organization hire separate general managers for the Thorns and Timbers and that players’ voices are prominent in the hiring of the next Thorns coach.

NWSL players have voiced similar feelings, with sources telling Just Women’s Sports that there were calls for Wilkinson’s firing during a players discussion last week.

The fans’ boycott comes amid a league-wide reckoning over player protection and rights. In response to the allegations made against Riley, the NWSL, US Soccer and FIFA have each opened up investigations into the league while league commissioner Lisa Baird resigned last Friday.