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‘We will not be silent!’ – NWSL players stop match to protest sexual abuse

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Gotham FC and Washington Spirit players forced a sixth-minute stoppage to their match Wednesday night to link arms in the middle of the field in protest of alleged rampant sexual abuse in the NWSL.

Teams in the evening’s other games (North Carolina Courage vs Racing Louisville and Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash) plan to take the same action.

North Carolina head coach Paul Riley was recently fired amid abuse accusations, and NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird subsequently resigned amid calls she didn’t do enough to listen to abundant warnings about Riley’s alleged behavior. Those developments have put into full focus the scope of player protection shortcomings in the women’s game, and the stories shared publicly in the U.S. over the past few weeks have inspired athletes in other countries to step forward as well.

What happened?

NWSL players in every match on Wednesday night will stop play in the sixth minute and come together at the center circle.

Gotham FC and Washington Spirit players kicked off the protests, with the two other games taking place later on.

What has been said?

Gotham FC player Domi Richardson told CBS: “The NWSL players reclaim their place on the field to honor victims and inspire and strengthen others. This isn’t business as usual. We will not be silent.”

The NWSL Players Association also released a statement on Wednesday night announcing demands to the league regarding its investigations into player treatment and protection.

“We will be relentless in our pursuit of a league that deserves the players in it,” wrote the organization.

What is the context for these statements?

The NWSLPA said the sixth-minute stoppages signified “the six years it took for [alleged Riley victims] Mana [Shim], Sinead [Farrelly], and all those who fought for too long to be heard.”