Women’s soccer coach fired after misconduct allegations

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 2021

Associated Press

The North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley on Thursday after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were detailed in a published report.

The alleged misconduct, which includes claims of sexual coercion, stretched back more than a decade, according to the detailed account by The Athletic.

National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement that the league is referring the allegations to the U.S. 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.

“A safe and secure work environment is a top priority for the league and its collective ownership,” Baird said in the statement.

U.S. soccer said it is suspending Riley’s coaching license.

“U.S. Soccer is in communication with the NWSL as they review this matter and will work with them to ensure meaningful steps are taken to ensure a safe and supportive environment across the league,” the federation said.

The Courage released a statement on behalf of team owners, the staff and players commending the women who came forward.

“The North Carolina Football Club is united together in our commitment to creating a safe, positive, and respectful environment, not only within our club but across the league and our great sport,” the statement said.

The Courage appointed assistant Sean Nahas as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Riley told The Athletic the allegations were “completely untrue.”

Riley was head coach of the Thorns in 2014 and 2015. After he was dismissed by the Thorns, he became head coach of the Western New York Flash for a season before the team was sold and moved to Cary.

Riley was WPS Coach of the Year in 2011 and earned the same honors in the NWSL in 2017 and 2018. The Courage won the NWSL championship in 2018 and 2019.