A Case Study for Soccer Success Becomes the Face of a Scandal

Oct 6, 2022

Everybody knew Paul Riley was a problem.

The first tangible sign came after the 2014 season, when players on the women’s soccer team he coached, the Portland Thorns, complained about his behavior in an anonymous survey.

“We got used to being called dumb, stupid, slow, idiotic, retarded,” one player wrote. Another said, “Being subject to verbal abuse and sexism shouldn’t exist in this league by any coach.”

The comments were distributed to executives throughout the National Women’s Soccer League and the United States Soccer Federation, which effectively ran the N.W.S.L. at the time. No one did anything about them, according to a withering report on abuse in women’s soccer. Riley did not respond to messages asking for comment when the report was released on Monday.

The indifference of Sunil Gulati, who was the president of U.S. Soccer, demonstrates how the soccer world thought of the Thorns. Gulati told investigators that while the surveys contained important feedback, he did not remember reading the comments from Thorns players.

Source: The New York Times