It also complicates any collective action that the players wanted to take. Members of the women’s national team that play in the NWSL are not paid by their individual clubs, but are paid by the United States Soccer Federation, and are therefore subject to a collective bargaining agreement signed with US Soccer. Per that agreement, players may not engage in any strike or stoppage of work, a clause that would also pertain to their employment in the NWSL.
But players were not required to formally stop work after the league, recognizing the urgency of the crisis, instead canceled games.
The scam had been growing for weeks. One NWSL team fired its coach “for cause” in late August, and another sacked its coach earlier this week after an investigation into the treatment of its players. The incident that led to Friday’s announcement happened on Thursday morning, when Athletic published an article which included allegations that Riley forced a player to have sex with her; forced two players to kiss and then sent them unwanted sexual pictures; And shouted and humiliated at the players.
The Athletic also reported that Riley was let go from his head coaching job with the Portland Thorns, arguably the league’s most popular team, in 2015 due to team policy violations, but again nothing to warn the players. When another team quickly reappointed him.
Riley denied most of the allegations against The Athletic and did not respond to a request for comment from The New York Times. Hours after the charges against him were published on Thursday morning, he was fired.
The anger of the players was increasing. On Tuesday, the NWSL completed the investigation of another team, the Washington Spirit. The league did not publish a detailed report of its findings, but it announced that Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired and would no longer be allowed to work in the NWSL
Only weeks earlier, the third coach, Christie Holly, Racing Louisville’s head coach, had been fired for the cause, and Gotham FC general manager Alice Lahoo was fired for an unspecified breach of league policy. Holly has not spoken publicly about her firing, and Lahoo’s attorney has denied that she violated any league policies.