U.S. Soccer said Friday night that it will launch an independent investigation immediately into the allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct reported by The Athletic Thursday.
The Athletic report about alleged behavior by former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.
The organization played a major role in establishing the NWSL in 2013 and provided administrative support to the league until it became fully independent last year.
In a statement, U.S. Soccer said that it has continued to support the NWSL financially, and many of its senior U.S. women’s national team players compete in the league.
“We take seriously our responsibility to vigorously investigate the abhorrent behavior that has been reported and gain a full and frank understanding of the factors that allowed it to happen, and the changes that should be made to make sure it does not happen again. Our goals throughout this process will be transparency, cooperation and accountability,” a USSF statement said.
Riley, who lived on Long Island for more than 30 years before he moved to North Carolina, was fired by the Courage Thursday in wake of the sexual coercion allegations reported Thursday morning.
“Player safety and respect is the paramount responsibility of every person involved in this game. That is true across every age, competition and ability level,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Cone said. “We owe it to each athlete, each fan and the entire soccer community to take every meaningful action in our power to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. We hope to work together with all parties in this important effort.”
U.S. Soccer said that was currently working to engage an investigator with “deep experience” with high-profile allegations of workplace misconduct. The investigator will be given full autonomy to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead.
The federation said that it was committed to sharing the results of the investigation when it concludes.
Earlier in the day, the NWSL said that it was postponed five games this weekend.
The five matches were: Racing Louisville FC vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit, Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride, Kansas City vs. Houston Dash and Portland Thorns Fc vs. OL Reign.