The US women’s league suspends the day after allegations of sexual harassment by several players towards a coach


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The American women’s soccer league (NWSL) suspended its weekend games on Friday amid the scandal caused by complaints by several players against a coach for sexual coercion. Thursday, Englishman Paul Riley was sacked as a North Carolina Courage coach hours after he was accused of sexual misconduct by two players, in an investigation published by the online media The Athletic. Today the suspension of the day due to the case has been made official.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role that I have played. I am very sorry for the pain that many are feeling, “he said in a statement on Friday. Lisa Baird, League Commissioner. “Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to go out into the field this weekend to give everyone a little space to reflect,” he said. “Our entire league has a lot to heal, and our players deserve much better.”

The commissioner assured that this measure, decided in collaboration with the players’ association, is only a first step as both organizations work collectively to transform the “culture of this league.” The weekend day was supposed to start this Friday with the game between the North Carolina Courage and the Washington Spirit. However, American women’s football suffered a new shakeup with the publication of the article that revealed the accusations against Riley, 58, for events allegedly occurred in various teams and leagues to which she belonged.

Riley, who has denied the allegations, is the NWSL second coach fired this week, after the league terminated Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke’s contract following another investigation that revealed allegations of verbal and emotional abuse. In its article, The Athletic disclosed the alleged inappropriate conduct against Riley carried out by his former players Sinead Farrelly y Meleana ‘Mana’ Shim. Farrelly, who played for the coach on three different teams in different leagues, recounts several incidents in which she felt forced to have sex with Riley when he was her coach at the Philadelphia Independence.

In a statement to The Athletic, Riley denied misbehaving and said the accusations are “completely false”. “I have never had sex with these players or made sexual advances to them,” said the coach. Shortly after the article was published, the North Carolina Courage announced the immediate dismissal of Riley on “very serious misconduct charges.”

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