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ISC statement on recent allegations of abuse, harassment, and misconduct in the NWSL

The Independent Supporters Council applauds Sinead Farrelly, Mana Shim, Kaiya McCullough, and the players of the NWSL for their strength in sharing their stories, even when that means reliving their trauma. We are disgusted and appalled by the behavior that has been protected, promoted, and ignored by people within the NWSL. Players should not be coerced into accepting abuse in fear of retaliation. Over the years we have seen a pattern of lack of fundamental protections in the workplace within the NWSL and this toxicity must end.

When the implementation of SafeSport was brought to the attention of the NWSL groups of ISC it was met with skepticism. We now see that our initial feelings have been validated. Programs only work when there is legitimate action behind the ideas. Because of the bravery of former players, we now see that there have been ongoing issues that have gone either ignored or unaddressed, despite there being “policy” in place. The truth is being shown; there is no policy to protect players.

We want to amplify the demands of the NWSLPA:

1. NWSL initiate an independent investigation into the allegations published by The Athletic as it relates to the Anti-Harassment Policy for a Safe Work Environment by 12:00 PM EST on Friday, October 1, 2021.

2. Any and all League or club staff who are accused of conduct, no matter when it occurred, that violates the current Anti-Harassment Policy for a Safe Work Environment or any mandated reporter who failed to report the alleged violation be suspended immediately, pending the results of the above investigation no later than 12:00 PM EST on Friday, October 1, 2021.

3. NWSL disclose how Paul Riley was hired within NWSL after departing from another NWSL club subsequent to an investigation into abusive conduct during the bargaining session scheduled for Friday, October 1, 2021.

In order for this sport to grow players must feel supported and protected. If they cannot trust the teams and leagues they play for, then there is no trust in the sport and the growth is stunted or stopped completely. Accountability must happen for every incident, at every team, and every level of the NWSL. The statements issued yesterday by the NWSL and Lisa Baird implied that the findings in the article were news, but there is proof that the complaints were filed and acknowledged. The current system is broken. We no longer have faith in the system to protect those currently playing on teams in the NWSL.

To the players of the NWSL: We hear you, we believe you, and we will support you. We will be loud for you when you cannot find or use your voice.


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