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NWSL’s Courage fires coach Paul Riley after sexual harassment and misconduct allegations

Paul Riley has denied allegations of sexual harassment which led to his firing by the North Carolina Courage of the National Women's Soccer League.Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

The North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League fired coach Paul Riley effective immediately after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were detailed in a published report in the The Athletic. The alleged misconduct, which includes claims of sexual coercion, stretched back more than a decade, according to the report. US Soccer said it is suspending Riley’s coaching license. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement that the league is referring the allegations to the US Center for SafeSport for investigation. The league, in its ninth season, is also mandating that anyone who interacts with players participate in training with SafeSport and be subject to background checks and additional screening. The NWSL is also implementing a new anonymous reporting process and vowed all reports would be promptly investigated. Former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim recounted their experiences with Riley to The Athletic. The alleged harassment of Farrelly started in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. She told the website that the abuse continued when Farrelly was with the Portland Thorns. Shim, a former Thorns player, also allegedly experienced harassment. Both women are no longer playing in the NWSL. Hanson’s Sam Mewis, a player for the Courage and the World Cup-winning US national team, posted her support for Farrelly and Shim on social media. Riley told The Athletic the allegations were “completely untrue.’'


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