Women’s football commissioner Baird has resigned amid allegations of coach harassment

Lisa Baird, the national women’s soccer league commissioner, has resigned after 19 months on charges of sexual harassment and misconduct by a former coach.

Baird’s resignation was announced by the league on Friday, a day after North Carolina coach Paul Riley released details of two former players claiming sexual misconduct.

Riley was fired by Courage on Thursday and the allegations sparked a wave of condemnation from players that forced him to close games this weekend.

In addition, FIFA began investigating the case on Friday. It rarely happens that the international governing body of football gets involved in a debate involving a member association. U.S. Soccer also announced an independent investigation Friday.

US Soccer 2013 was instrumental in founding NWSL in 2013 and helped the league become independent until last year. The federation has continued to support the league financially.

“The safety and dignity of the players is the highest responsibility of every person involved in this game. This is true at every age, competition and level of power, “said Cindy, president of the U.S. Football Association. “We urge every athlete, every fan and the entire football community to take every meaningful step in our power to ensure that this never happens again.”

The Athletic has suspended the coaching license of the US Soccer Rally after allegations of abuse by former NWSL players Sinad Farrell and Mana Shim.

FIFA told the Associated Press that the case was “deeply concerned” and would now seek further details on the issues raised by the American football authorities.

“Due to the severity and seriousness of the allegations made by the players, we can confirm that FIFA’s judiciary is actively investigating the matter and has begun a preliminary investigation,” FIFA told the AP in a statement. “As part of this, FIFA will contact stakeholders, including US Soccer and NWSL, for further information on various security concerns and allegations of abuse raised.”

Farrell’s alleged harassment began in 2011, when she was a now inactive female professional soccer league Philadelphia independence player.

He told the website the harassment continued when Perland was with Portland Thorns. Former Thorns player Shim has also been accused of harassment. The Thorns said Thursday that the team had investigated claims about Riley and that they had left the league when he was fired.

Riley told The Athletic that the allegations were completely false.

Hai Chai stalked the league over the allegations and forced the game off this weekend. The NWSL Players Association has said it expects fans to understand and support the decision.

The union said, “It’s okay to take place to process, to feel and to take care of yourself.” “Actually, it’s more than just okay, it’s a priority. We will have our focus as players this weekend. ”

Baird became commissioner of NWSL in February 2020, after serving as chief marketing officer for the United States Olympic Committee. He was acclaimed for bringing new sponsors to the NWSL and increasing the league’s visibility on the national stage.

OL Kingdom midfielder Jess Fishlock, who has been playing at NWSL since 2013, has been advising women on the league and overall.

“I think women athletes have spent a lot more time, especially over the years, not just women’s football,” Fislock said. “I think everyone knows what happened to USA Gymnastics, and it’s something that’s been happening in women’s sports over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And we’ve never felt safe enough to talk about it, and if we ever Feel brave enough to talk about it, it’ll just float under the carpet, or we’ll be told we’re wrong … and I think we’re at a point where we’re done.

Riley was the head coach of Thorns in 2014 and 2015. After being fired by Thorns, he became head coach of the Western New York Flash for one season before the team was sold and moved to North Carolina.

In its ninth season, the NWSL team has been stunned by recent scandals involving officials.

Washington Spirit coach Ritchie Burke was fired after details of verbal and emotional abuse of players were reported in the Washington Post. The league formally fired Burke and approved Spirit on Tuesday after an independent investigation.

Gotham FC general manager Alice Lahue was sacked in July following an investigation into the league’s anti-harassment policy. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Racing Lewisville coach Christy Holly was fired in September but the reasons for his dismissal have not been disclosed.

OL Kingdom coach Farid Bensiti abruptly resigned in July. On Friday, OL Rain’s CEO and minority owner Bill Predmore said Bensiti was asked to resign after an unannounced incident during practice.

Bennetti had earlier accused US national team midfielder Lindsay Horan of sexual misconduct while coaching Paris Saint-Germain. Horan says Benasti hit him because of his weight.

AP sports writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.

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