Alex Morgan helped her Portland Thorns teammate Mana Shim file an abuse complaint against their then-coach Paul Riley in 2015.
Now the U.S. women’s national team star is joining Shim on U.S. Soccer’s participant safety taskforce to help prevent abuse across all levels of the sport.
Shim is the chair of the taskforce, which was created as a direct result of a U.S. Soccer-commissioned investigation into abuse in the NWSL. The taskforce will seek “to drive change across the entire soccer ecosystem,” the federation said Friday in a news release.
Morgan will be joined on the 33-member taskforce by her USWNT teammates Tierna Davidson, AD Franch and Naomi Girma, as well as by NWSLPA president and Washington Spirit midfielder Tori Huster.
The NWSL also will be represented by Carlin Hudson, director of strategy for the league, and by Yael Averbuch West, general manager for Gotham FC.
The taskforce also includes one former member of the men’s national team, Tony Sanneh, though no current USMNT players, as well as representatives from professional, recreational and youth leagues, among others.
Former USWNT midfielder Shannon Boxx and Maryland youth association executive director Greg Smith will serve as vice chairs.
The priorities for the taskforce include supporting the recommendations that resulted from the investigation. The group also has been asked to identify “the biggest concerns regarding the risks around relationships with significant power imbalances,” in particular coach-player relationships, which NWSL Coach of the Year Casey Stoney called out in October as “power dynamic that should not happen.”
“There is much to do, but I am confident we have a team with a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to change the culture in soccer from the ground up,” Shim said in the release. “Together, we will be defining new standards, policies, reporting systems and educational programs with the goal of eradicating abuse altogether from our sport.”
In 2015, Shim reported then-coach Paul Riley for sexual harassment and coercion. Her report led to his dismissal from the club, but the reason for his departure was not made public.
“It was offensive,” Shim said. “They weren’t going to say anything about Paul unless they had to, right? Because it was at their expense. It would make them look bad.”
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 findings of the U.S. Soccer investigation, conducted by former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates, detailed a culture of abuse perpetuated by leaders in the NWSL and in the federation itself.