Former National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) footballers Mana Shim and Siniad Farrell, who came out publicly last week with allegations of sexual harassment against sacked head coach Paul Riley, said they wanted to take more steps to protect players.
On NBC’s Today Morning Show on Tuesday, Shim and Farrell said they were grateful for the support they had received since they went public and wanted to take greater action to prevent a repeat of such actions.
The aftermath of the allegations against Riley, first reported by The Athletic last Thursday, included the resignation of NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird and the cancellation of five league games last weekend.
“It’s not something that goes away overnight because we talk about it,” said Shim, 30, who played for Riley with Farrell in Portland Thorns, next to the NWSL.
“It’s not just this team, it’s not just this coach, it’s across the league, it’s across the game and we have to do something about it.”
Riley was fired by NWSL’s North Carolina Courage last Thursday and US Soccer also suspended his coaching license.
In a statement to The Athletic, Riley denied the allegations and described the allegations as “completely untrue.”
“I have never had sex with these players or made sexual progress,” he told the website.
NWSL, the highest level of women’s football in the United States, has launched an independent investigation into its abuse claims and handles historical historical allegations of discrimination, harassment or abuse.
It has created a secure and anonymous reporting platform so that current and former players and staff can report misconduct.
“I want more justice. I want better policy. I want the players to be safe, ”said Shim. “And at the same time, I think we’re on the right track and I’m grateful for those who have come to us and supported us.”
Teams1-year-old Farrell, who played for Riley for three teams, said the support he had received since coming forward had blown him away and “my pain was given purpose” but added that he was still affected by the alleged abuse.
“The loss of my self-confidence and how I saw myself, how I came to life, it enters every part of your livelihood,” Farrell said.
“It simply came to our notice then. It’s bigger than sports … it’s about our own lives and the safety of our bodies, and the players deserve it, we all deserve it. “
Meanwhile, U.S. national team star Alex Morgan has condemned the league for not doing more to protect players from sexual harassment by some of his coaches over the past decade. He was also speaking on NBC’s Today show.
“I’m here to support Mana and Siniad and to raise their voice, and just to show the systemic failure from the league and how much they have done wrong in handling Mana cases and complaints and investigations and where they have failed Mana and Siniad and probably many more women, Said Morgan, who won a gold medal with the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
“When I look back, I tried to be as good a friend and colleague as possible to help Mana file her complaint, when there was no anti-harassment policy, no league HR, no anonymous hotline, no reporting. There was no way.
“We are now starting to place these things based on the needs of the players, without the league being active. We ask something to make the league active, not reactive. We want transparency. ”
Meanwhile, Steve Baldwin resigned as chief executive officer and managing partner of NWSL’s Washington Spirit on Tuesday following the dismissal of coach Richie Burke following an investigation into the harassment.
Baldwin said in a statement that he decided to resign at the request of the players and to avoid confusion.
“It was an extremely difficult decision for me,” Baldwin said. “I have no doubt that I did something wrong, but my effort and focus has always been on creating a professional experience for our players.”
Burke was fired after the Washington Post published a detailed report on verbal and psychological abuse of players, and NWSL launched a formal investigation. The spirit was also approved by the league.