As reported by The Wall Street Journal, The National Women’s Soccer League announced Thursday that it would be canceling this weekend’s games following allegations of sexual misconduct brought against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was fired this week.
The scandal exploded after a report was released in The Athletic detailing allegedly abusive and controlling behavior by Coach Riley while he was employed by the Portland Thorns, including sexual coercion. Riley told The Athletic that most of the accusations were false and unfounded, denying ever having had sex with his players.
The league faces mounting criticism for its mishandling of this and other cases involving alleged sexual abuse. In recent months, there have been multiple reports of abusive or inappropriate behavior by coaches or executives at several teams, including the Utah Royals FC and the Washington Spirit.
The NWSL confirmed that “given the gravity of the events of the last week” this weekend’s games would not take place.
“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played,” said Commissioner Lisa Baird. “I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect. Business as usual is not our concern right now.”
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