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MWL National League commissioner resigns amid allegations of sexual misconduct against Paul Riley

The League confirmed on Friday that Lisa Bird has resigned as commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The NWSL is the top division of professional women’s soccer in the United States.

“The Women’s National Football League on Friday welcomed and accepted the resignation of Lisa Bird as its commissioner,” a statement posted on the NWSL account said on Twitter.

Lisa Levine is also out, sources said to ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle, general counsel for the NWSL, confirming a report from The Athletic.

The decision followed a detailed report on allegations of coercion and sexual assault by Paul Riley, now former North Carolina Courage manager, that covered several teams. Riley was fired from his position on Thursday.

Riley’s impeachment was the latest in a series of CEO firings, including Richie Burke of the Washington Spirit, Christy Holly of Racing Louisville and Fred Penstetti of OL Reign.

Particularly surprising on the NWSL board was the revelation that the league failed to act upon Riley’s alleged actions on multiple occasions, putting players at risk. Earlier this year, they took no action over an offer from Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim – two of Riley’s alleged victims – to investigate further cases in which Riley abused his position as technical director.

Byrd’s response to Farrelly’s email – which was revealed in a tweet from Orlando Pride striker and US women’s national team Alex Morgan – was to confirm in part the following, “We’ve reviewed our files and can confirm that the initial complaint came to a satisfactory conclusion.” Unfortunately, I cannot share additional details.”

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Earlier in the day, a decision was made to postpone matches scheduled for this weekend, and Bird made a statement: “This week, like this season, has been very painful for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I played in it. to many.

“Recognizing this shock, we have decided not to enter the courts this weekend to give everyone some space to think.”

Sources said Baird quit his job hours later.

FIFA and US Soccer are also ready to participate in their separate investigations. FIFA said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” and was already investigating the players’ allegations against Riley. FIFA added that it would contact US Soccer and NWSL “for more information on the various security concerns and allegations of violations that have been raised”.

The USSF said in a statement that it would “immediately” begin an independent investigation into the allegations of abusive conduct and sexual misconduct.

“Player safety and respect is the ultimate responsibility of everyone involved in the sport. This applies to all ages, competition and skill level,” said Cindy Cohn, president of American Football. “We owe it to every athlete, every fan and the entire football community to take every useful action on our hands to ensure something like this never happens again. We look forward to working with all parties in this important endeavour.”

The federation said in its statement that it “is currently working to appoint an investigator with significant experience in cases of high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct on the job. The investigator will be given complete independence to pursue facts and evidence wherever he leads. The American football team agrees to share the results of the investigation when the investigation is concluded.” “.

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Baird was appointed NWSL Commissioner in February 2020, succeeding Amanda Duffy. She was previously the Director of Marketing for New York Public Radio.

Levine joined NWSL as general counsel in June 2017. She previously held a similar position with the US Soccer team starting in 2009.

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