National Women's Soccer League players pause mid-match, stand in solidarity in first match back following postponement

[Breaking news update, published at 8:23 pm. Y]

Players from the National Women’s Soccer League stopped play during the sixth minute in the first matches scheduled Wednesday night and joined together at center circle in solidarity for a minute.
      The protest will occur during all three matches, the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association announced Wednesday.
        During the first scheduled match, players on NJ/NY Gotham FC and the Washington Spirit stopped play in the sixth minute and gathered at the center circle in solidarity with their arms interlocked for a minute before play resumed. Fans in attendance at Subaru Park in Philadelphia gave a standing ovation and cheered as the players joined together.
          During the match between North Carolina Courage and Racing Louisville FC, players got a standing ovation from the crowd at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, Carolina del Norte, as they gathered together in the center circle in the sixth minute of the match.
          The third match Wednesday will feature the Portland Thorns FC and Houston Dash in Portland, Oregón.
          [Original version, published at 3:31 pm. Y]
          The National Women’s Soccer League is set to return to the pitch on Wednesday night for the first time since allegations of sexual misconduct rattled the league, chispeado major resignations and led to the cancellation of last weekend’s matches.
          The controversy stems from an investigative report by The Athletic last week in which players on the record alleged that North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley used his influence and power to sexually harass players and, in one incident, coerce a player into having sex with him.
          En el informe, former player Sinead Farrelly described how a married Riley coerced her into his hotel room to have sex. Another reported incident describes Riley coercing Farrelly and teammate Mana Shim back to his apartment and pressuring the two to kiss each other.
          The Athletic asked Riley to comment on his alleged misconduct, to which he replied the former playersclaims werecompletely untrue.” Según The Athletic, Riley told them in an email: “I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players.
          CNN has not been able to reach Riley for comment.
          The fallout from the report has been significant. los Courage fired Riley. The commissioner of the NWSL, Lisa Baird, renunciar, and the 10-team league called off all matches scheduled for last weekend as a result of the allegations against Riley, who has coached three franchises over eight seasons.
          Steve Baldwin, the CEO and managing partner of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, also resigned on Tuesday. His statement en Twitter referenced a recent request by the players as part of the reason for stepping down.
          The NWSL Players Association said in a statement that scheduled matches would resume Wednesday, adding the hashtag #NoMoreSilence.
          We have taken the weekend’s pause to evaluate,” the NWSLPA said in a statement. “We acknowledge that we will not process the pain of the last several days in one weekend or one week. In the midst of statements that leagues and clubs are quick to release, we have been listening to ourselves, and to one another.

          Courage owner apologizes

          Former head coach Paul Riley of the North Carolina Courage denied the sexual misconduct accusations in The Athletic report.

          In a letter Wednesday, North Carolina Courage owner and chairman Steve Malik apologized and vowed to create a safe environment for players.
          Let me begin by saying that I am deeply sorry for our part in the failure to create an environment where players feel safe and comfortable coming forward,” Malik said in the letter.
          He said the club was made aware of an investigation into Riley’s behavior in 2015, but that they wereassured that he was in good standing.He did not disclose who assured him of that.
          Malik stated that the team had no prior knowledge of the “horrendo” allegations against Riley until last week’s report. Malik said that the team did their own due diligence on the former coach after buying the Riley-led franchise in 2017, then known as the Western New York Flash.
          As soon as we were aware of the serious allegations against Mr. Riley, we immediately terminated his employment. There is no place for that behavior and abuse in our sport and society. Firing Mr. Riley was the first step, and we continue to reflect on how we could have been better,” Malik said.
          Farrelly, speaking to NBC on Tuesday alongside Shim and US Women’s National team striker Alex Morgan, said the damage Riley has causedseeps into every partof their livelihoods.
          I think it’s just really important and why we wanted to share our story and share in so much detail the damage that was done to our careers, but who we are as people,” Farrelly, who played for Riley on three different teams, explicado.
            The damage to my self-confidence and how I saw myself and how I approach life, it seeps into every part of your livelihood,” Farrelly told NBC.
            There is a lot of loss that comes with that and things I will not get back and I think when we can tap into the emotional impact of just showing up to try and be your authentic self, it really can hit home for lot of people because it’s bigger than the sport. This is about safety in our own lives and our bodies and the players deserve that. We all deserve that. And that’s something that we will fight for.

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