The NWSL messed up big time and not just once, but the duration of the leagues whole existence. For those you who don’t follow the National Women’s Soccer League you’re missing out on some great soccer. It’s something I’m very passionate about. I’ve been going to Washington Spirit games since I was in middle school. The League has some of the world’s top soccer players play in it, but the league has a dark history that is still affecting it today.
To give everyone a little background the league was established in 2012 after multiple other women’s soccer leagues have failed before then. Many of the coaches that are in the league have been around for a long time within the U.S Soccer ranks. U.S Soccer oversees most regulation soccer leagues in the United States, and if we know how they handled the Women’s National Soccer Team’s demand for better pay then you’ve got a pretty good understanding of how the treat women’s soccer.
Now for the part that absolutely disgusts me. There has been recently a ton of players coming forward about all the abuse they have been suffering for the past 9 years from the team organizations and the coaches themselves. The teams have a habit of bringing in known abusive coaches into the league without a care for the well being of their players. When the players come forward with being abused by these coaches their team organization covers it up quietly and has kept the abusive coach on their teams. For example, The Washington Spirit hired coach Richie Burke who was fired last month for alleged verbal abuse and racist remarks. The team owner was warned of this behavior before hiring Burke, but he signed him anyway.
Another example is the Portland Thorns. They had former players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim come forward to the league claiming former Portland Thorns coach and now North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley coerced players into having sex with him, verbally abused them, said anti-gay comments, and a bunch of other inappropriate behavior. Mana Shim can to the Portland Thorns organization in 2015 about Riley and they didn’t do anything about it and he was able to keep coaching in the league for another 6 years until both Farrelly and Mana took it to the NWSL and then he was fired by the North Carolina Courage this past month.
These are only a couple examples about what’s going on in the NWSL which makes me ask the question; Why don’t we hear about this stuff as often in mens sports? Why does it mostly happen to women’s sports? One thing that stood out to me is the past four coaches that have been fired for off the field reason have all been men. I don’t know if it’s a power thing or what makes them act the way they do toward players, but the league and teams need to do better for their players and protect them. No one is going to support the league if this is their underlying values, which can really cause damage to women’s sports as a whole.