The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has been beset by a scandal this week involving now-former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley and the league’s failure to act on their knowledge of the allegations surrounding him.
On Friday, the NWSL agreed to cancel all games for this coming weekend. The league reportedly intends to use the time to investigate the misconduct allegations against the former Courage coach.
Riley was fired on Thursday following after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were published. But the deeper outrage comes from the NWSL reportedly being made aware of the allegations, and not acting.
On social media, many fans are hopeful that today’s actions are the beginning of systemic change in the NWSL. Others believe that the higher-ups in the league will now be held accountable for what happened.
There will officially be no NWSL matches this weekend. True change is ever-evolving.
— Nick Krupke (@NickKrupke) October 1, 2021
— Rose City Riveters (@PDXRivetersSG) October 1, 2021
— Happy Rock Casuals (@HappyRockCasual) October 1, 2021
Understand that this reality means the players are risking everything by speaking out. The NWSL isn’t too big too fail or even close. This might cost these players their jobs — not just in retaliation, but due to instability.
And they’re making their stand anyways. ✊ https://t.co/4VJzfqd83N
— Justin Striebel (@jstriebel22) October 1, 2021
Many NWSL players have been speaking out, expressing their disappointment in the nine-year-old women’s soccer league for how they handled the Paul Riley situation.
Riley led the North Carolina Courage to three NWSL Shields and two NWSL titles between 2017 and 2020. He also led their predecessor, the Western New York Flash, to an NWSL title in 2016.
But a September 30 report by The Athletic alleged that Riley had coerced and verbally abused players on his teams between 2011 and 2015. The Courage fired him the same day.
The NWSL has spent the past 24 hours scrambling to create new policies that will ensure another situation like Riley’s doesn’t happen again.
We’ll see in the days and weeks to come if the players take the league seriously.