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NWSL whistleblower Mana Shim to lead US Soccer safety taskforce

Mana Shim played for the Portland Thorns from 2013-17. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mana Shim is joining U.S. Soccer as the lead of the federation’s newly created participant safety taskforce.

As a player for the Portland Thorns in 2015, Shim accused then-coach Paul Riley of sexual harassment and coercion. Her complaint led to his dismissal from the club, but the reason for his departure was not made public.

In September 2021, Shim and her former Thorns teammate Sinead Farrelly went public with allegations of abuse against Riley. Their whistleblowing led to investigations into systemic abuse in the NWSL, one by U.S. Soccer and one by the league and its players association.

The taskforce is a direct result of the U.S. Soccer-commissioned investigation conducted by former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates. The findings of the investigation, released at the start of October, detail a culture of abuse perpetuated by leaders in the NWSL and in the federation itself.

In addressing the recommendations outlined in Yates’ report, the federation committed to establishing “a new Office of Participant Safety to oversee U.S. Soccer’s conduct policies and reporting mechanisms.”

The new task force will “convene leaders in soccer at all levels across the country to coordinate efforts to implement the Yates report’s recommendations and to ensure increased clarity on conduct-related policies and procedures,” U.S. Soccer said in a news release.

Shim agreed to join the taskforce as chair because she sees an opportunity to “set a new standard for all sports,” she said in a statement.

“Sally Yates’s report made it clear that, for far too long, leaders across the soccer ecosystem – including at U.S. Soccer – have not taken responsibility for protecting players,” Shim said. “But I believe in the capacity for change. As leader of the Taskforce, I am committed to ensuring not only that Yates’s recommendations are implemented, but that we push beyond them. We need to find the root causes of our sport’s systemic failures and take action at every level – from the youth game to the professional game.”

More stakeholders from every level of soccer are being identified and will be part of the taskforce, Shim said.

“I’m deeply appreciative of the cooperation and willingness to do the hard work that we’ve already seen from leaders across soccer – including at the NWSL and NWSLPA,” she said. “I’m honored to play a leadership role as we move forward.”

The NWSL and NWSLPA’s joint investigation into abuse in the league is expected by the end of the year.