USWNT icon Megan Rapinoe has condemned the National Women’s Soccer League for mishandling the matter of former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, pledging support for her teammates while highlighting the ripple effects of the situation.
Rapinoe did not hold back when asked about her take on Riley’s extensive abuse and sexual coercion allegations, labeling the individual a “monster.”
“I hope we’re in a real moment of reckoning where we can turn this into real change and hopefully save the league,” Rapinoe said.
“Because as it stands right now, that’s not really a league anybody wants to be a part of, and I think we put up with it for so long because we love the game, and you know we want this to succeed. So hopefully, we can move forward, and this can be a real watershed moment.
“I mean, I certainly knew about it. I would be surprised if a lot of people hadn’t. I think a lot of people are obviously very happy to see a monster like that go.”
Her comments come after players across the NWSL staged a demonstration at the six-minute mark of each game over the weekend. Athletes ran to the center of the pitch to form a circle and stand arm in arm to show their support for Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly, the women who came forward with the sexual allegations against Riley.
Rapinoe continued on the topic to shed light on the prevalence of harassment everywhere, adding that the pay gap in work places fuels the dynamic.
“I think sexual harassment, period, is prevalent everywhere. If you’re a woman, you’ve been sexually harassed in some sort of way, verbal or otherwise, just in the world. So yeah, I think it’s prevalent. I think the power structures are super imbalanced.
“I think the lack of money that people make plays a huge part in it. You know, if you’re making $6,000, that’s a lot different power that you feel than if you’re making even $50,000 or $100,000, and just the way that we are kept in one place, and really have no options. I think just sort of lends to this kind of culture of abuse.”
This comes amid the ongoing lawsuit the USWNT players have drafted against the US Soccer Federation in the fight towards equal pay.
The NWSL has responded to the players’ outcries by re-opening the investigation into Riley and creating several initiatives to make players feel safe, including an anonymous phone line to voice complaints and a stricter anti-harassment policy.