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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Pair’s plea to protect NWSL players


Mana Shim (left) and Sinead Farrelly were team-mates at Portland Thorns

Two former footballers, who have accused coach Paul Riley of sexual misconduct in the NWSL, say they want more action to protect players.

North Carolina Courage sacked Riley after the allegations, which the Englishman denies.

Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim were both coached by Riley at Portland Thorns.

“I want more justice, I want better policies and I want players to be protected,” Shim told NBC’s Today programme in the United States.

“And, at the same time, I feel like we’re on the right path and I’m grateful for everyone who has reached out and supported us.”

Farrelly, who accused Riley of misconduct at two other teams during an investigation by The Athletic which spoke to more than a dozen players, added: “I’m completely overwhelmed.

“The support of this story by everyone globally has blown me away. It’s given my pain purpose and that has been a liberation for me that I’ve not been able to feel for almost 10 years.

“Everyone who has reached out and shown support has turned this moment into a movement and made this matter. I don’t have words, just pure gratitude.

“It’s made this what it should be, which is a huge deal in demanding change.”

The players have both been supported by former Portland Thorns team-mate and United States international forward Alex Morgan.

The two-time World Cup winner said: “I want to support them and show the systemic failure from the league, and where they failed Mana and Sinead and probably many other women.”

Since the allegations first came to light on Thursday, National Women’s Soccer League weekend games were suspended, league commissioner Lisa Baird has resigned and the league, US Soccer and world football governing body Fifa will conduct separate investigations.

Paul Riley
Paul Riley had been head coach of North Carolina Courage since 2017

Chelsea players ‘devastated’ by allegations

Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson said her team-mates have been “devastated” by the news.

The Sweden defender also said she was “one of the lucky ones” because she felt “protected” at Chelsea and when playing in Sweden.

Eriksson, who joined the Blues in 2017, told BBC Sport: “We are devastated to hear about these events that happened in the NWSL.

“We discussed it and talked about how horrifying it is, but it’s good that players are brave enough to step forward after these events came to light.”

Asked if she felt protected, she added: “I think I am one of the lucky ones where I’ve been in environments in Sweden and Chelsea where I feel protected.

“I know it’s out there and I know it’s a big problem, a societal problem. There has to be a good system in place for when players speak up and when something has happened to them. They need to have a channel to go to and be heard.”

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said she could not talk “in isolation” about the allegations in the NWSL.

Last week she referenced the case of Sarah Everard, who was raped and killed by a police officer in London earlier this year.

“In general, we talk about improving things so that women feel safe and not under threat on a daily basis – and I think we have to talk about that happening in our daily lives, not just in a particular environment,” said Hayes.

“This is not unusual for women to experience these types of experiences and I think we have to work every day to make sure that we don’t feel as threatened or live in fear.”

Asked if a similar thing could occur in England, she added: “I don’t know whether policies might be ahead or behind the NWSL.

“What I know is, as a club, we’ve got safeguarding people in place, we’ve got welfare people in place, perhaps we have a bigger support provision in and around our teams than they do in the NWSL.

“There’s historical cases in our country, within our game. So, for me you can’t just talk about anything in isolation. In society we’ve got a huge problem in the way we treat women.

“I can’t just limit what I speak about to football because violence towards women is very prevalent in our society.”

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