The National Women’s Soccer League stopped play to bring awareness to sexual assault
The National Women’s Soccer League stopped play on Wednesday as players on opposing teams stood together in solidarity against sexual assault. The stand comes in the wake of recent allegations against former NC Courage coach Paul Riley, who has been accused of sexual abuse against players. Riley has denied the allegations.
During the first game of the night, athletes from both NJ/NY Gotham FC and the Washington Spirit gathered in the field’s centre circle and linked arms for one minute, honouring victims of sexual assault and demanding “systematic transformation.”
“Teams will stop play in each of tonight’s games at the 6th minute,” read a statement shared by the NWSL players on Twitter. “Players will join together in solidarity at the center circle for one minute in recognition of the 6 years it took for Mana [Shim], Sinead [Farrelly], and all those who fought for too long to be heard.”
Subsequently, the North Carolina Courage vs. Racing Louisville match and the Portland Thorns vs. Houston Dash match also both came to a stop at the six-minute mark for a show of solidarity. The players also released a list of demands calling for further investigation into sexual abuse within the league.
Supporters in the stands applauded the players during this gesture, and held up signs reading “believe Black players” and “protect our players.”
Mashable’s Rachel Thompson investigates sexual violence (and what we can do about it) in ‘Rough’
The NWSL was shaken by the allegations against Riley, which resulted in his dismissal. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird and Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin have also resigned, and Portland Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson was placed on administrative leave. Riley previously worked as a coach for both Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns.