NWSL Cancels Weekend Games Amid Abuse Allegations

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) canceled its games this weekend following allegations of abuse among clubs. The move was announced on Friday, and it comes after the league concluded investigations into the Washington Spirit leading to the termination of then-head coach Richie Burke. Later in the week, North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley was fired after allegations of sexual misconduct that stemmed from the power of imbalance of him and his players. 

"This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played," NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. "I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect. Business as usual isn't our concern right now. Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better. We have made this decision in collaboration with our players association and this pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue."  

There is also the resignation of former OL Reign head coach Fred Benstiti as it was reported that a player made a formal complaint about him saying that he verbally abused her. The NWSLPA also released a statement, asking the league to call off the game to give players time to focus on their well-being. 

"We, the players of the NWSL, stand with Sinead Farrelly, Mana Shim, Kaiya McCullough, and each of the layers who have brought their stories into the light - both known and unknown," a statement from the NWSLPA read. "Words cannot adequately capture our anger, pain, sadness and disappointment. To the players who suffer in silence, know that the Players Association holds a safe place for you. We stand ready to confidentially offer you resources and support. You are not alone."

Former soccer star Julie Foudy called out the NWSL for not protecting their players. "A league for women. Yet [NWSL] fails to protect women," Foudy wrote. "And then tries to continue to sweep it under the rug. Support these players. Believe these players. Protect these players. Transparency, accountability NOW."

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If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.