Two-time World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe on Thursday called for the expulsion of two team owners following a report detailing rampant abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Rapinoe, an NWSL player for Seattle’s OL Reign and a well-known women’s soccer activist, called Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler. Both ignored players’ allegations that their coaches were abusive, according to the report released by former acting U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates.
“I don’t think Merritt Paulson is fit to own this team. I don’t think Arnim is fit to own Chicago. We have to see these people go,” Rapinoe said, USA reported. Today.
Rapinoe said anyone complicit in the misconduct must be held accountable.
“None of these people have shown they deserve to be around this beautiful game because they can’t even handle the basic responsibilities of their job,” she said, according to USA Today. Accountability is necessary “to signal to players that we are being heard. That we are respected and that action is being taken.
Paul Riley, who coached the Thorns under Paulson in 2014-15, is accused of sexually coercing and verbally abusing his players, but he continued to coach in the league.
In his report, Yates wrote that the Thorns concealed information and “obstructed our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to prevent our use of relevant documents”.
Paulson said he is stepping down from ownership until a joint investigation is released. “I cannot apologize enough for our part in a blatant systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we committed in 2015. I am truly sorry,” he said.
Red Stars owner Whisler has dismissed numerous player complaints of sexual comments and verbal abuse by longtime manager Rory Dames, according to the report.
Whisler was removed from his role as chairman of the franchise’s board of directors.