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NWSL Announces Systemic Shakeup Amid Paul Riley Scandal

The NWSL announced several changes and initiatives after former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was fired and commissioner Lisa Baird resigned this past week due to the allegations against Riley. 

The NWSL board of governors announced the formation of an executive committee that will include Amanda Duffy (Orlando Pride), Angie Long (Kansas City NWSL), and Sophie Sauvage (OL Reign). The committee will oversee the league's front office operations while the NWSL conducts a global search for a permanent commissioner. 

"On behalf of the entire league, we are heartbroken for what far too many players have had to endure in order to simply play the game they love, and we are so incredibly sorry,” the three executive committee members said in the release. “We understand that we must undertake a significant systemic and cultural transformation to address the issues required to become the type of league that NWSL players and their fans deserve and regain the trust of both. We’re committed to doing just that and recognize that this won’t happen overnight, but only through vigilance over time.”

This was all set in motion when a report by the The Athletic detailed former players' accusations against Riley. The accusations included sexual coercion and the use inappropriate comments about players' weight and sexual orientations that spanned over multiple years and over a decade. 

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The NWSL has retained Covington & Burling to investigate the environments players compete, train and live in. At the end of the investigation, reform measurements will be suggested.

The initiatives will include an independent review of practices and policies at each club, a reopening of the 2015 investigation on Riley's departure from the Portland Thorns and his hiring by the Western New York Flash (before their relocation to North Carolina) and a review of all available investigative reports related to all historical complaints of discrimination, harassment, or abuse. 

On Tuesday, Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired for cause after he was suspended for allegations of verbal and emotional abuse in August. FIFA is conducting its own investigation into the allegations against Riley as will the U.S. Soccer Federation. 

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