Women's soccer league commissioner resigns following abuse allegations

Women's soccer league commissioner resigns following abuse allegations
© Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned on Friday following allegations of abuse levied against league coaches.

“The National Women’s Soccer League on Friday has received and accepted Lisa Baird’s resignation as its commissioner,” the league said in a statement posted to Twitter.

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The resignation is the latest twist in the scandal surrounding sexual harassment within the league. 

The Athletic reported this week that North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley has sexually coerced players since 2010. He's been accused of asking two players to kiss in front of him so that players did not have to do a rigorous workout and sending unsolicited sexual messages. 

In response to the allegations, Riley told The Athletic “I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players.”  

Riley was fired on Thursday after the allegations came to light. Earlier this week, Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired after The Washington Post published an article revealing that Burke verbally and emotionally abused players.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Baird said that “business as usual” was not important to the league in light of the firings.

“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,” Baird said. 

Amid the scandal, several prominent soccer players criticized the league and demanded an independent investigation into the allegations.

World Cup winner Alex Morgan said the league “must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse.”