State Watch

Women's soccer chief vows 'institutional change' amid abuse allegations

The National Women's Soccer League has pledged to make "institutional change" a priority as they conduct an investigation following the allegations of misconduct against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

"I am committed to achieving institutional change on behalf of the players and everyone else associated with this league," the league's interim CEO Marla Messing said, according to Reuters

Messing added that the investigation would be conducted in collaboration with the National Women's Soccer League Players Association. 

"We have to make the changes that are fundamental to having a league where players feel valued and safe and feel like they are receiving the respect that they deserve," Messing also said.

Messing's remarks come after a report last month from The Athletic claimed Riley sexually coerced players since 2010 in addition to other misconduct like asking players to kiss in front of him to avoid a difficult workout and sending unsolicited sexual messages.


After this report, Riley was fired, and former National Women's Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird submitted her resignation.  

Messing, who replaced Baird, would not comment on if she would remain with the league more permanently but instead said she was focused on more near-term reform, Reuters reported.


Riley denied "the majority" of the allegations in The Athletic's report.


Soccer stars including Alex Morgan have since called upon the league to do more to protect its players. 


"We've now started to put these things in place, by demand of players, not by the league being proactive. Something we ask is for the league to start being proactive, not reactive. We're asking for transparency," Morgan said in an interview on NBC's "Today" following the allegations. 


The Hill has reached out to the National Women's Soccer League for more information.