Sunday, November 28 2021

The NWSL protest of the league’s handing of sexual harassment and coercion allegations against former coach Paul Riley gained international support Saturday. Players from the Liverpool women’s team and Sheffield United locked arms in solidarity with NWSL players prior their game.

Players from both teams gathered to form a circle before the Liverpool women took on Sheffield United.

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The NWSL has participated in demonstrations to protest the league’s response to a sexual harassment scandal involving former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley. The Courage fired Riley after he was accused of sexual coercion and inappropriate comments that stretched back to 2010.

Courage owner Steve Malik apologized for his “failure to create an environment where players feel safe and comfortable coming forward.” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned after it was revealed she failed to act after being informed in 2015 of instances of abuse by Riley.

NWSL players issue demands during in-game protest

The NWSL attempted to go into damage control following the scandal. The league postponed games in early October to “give everyone some space to reflect.”

On Wednesday, players stopped contests mid-match in protest. As players stood together on the field, the NWSL Players Association released a statement detailing demands from players aimed at cleaning up the sport. Those demands required individuals in power around the league to submit to independent investigations into misconduct. The Players Association asked the league to agree to cooperate in those independent investigations by Oct. 13. The players also would like to have their voices heard when the league decides on its next commissioner.

Players from Liverpool women's team and Sheffield United.Players from Liverpool women's team and Sheffield United.
Players from the Liverpool women’s team and Sheffield United locked arms in support of NWSL players. (Photo by George Wood – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

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