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The Portland Thorns Turn out to be the Face of a Scandal in Women’s Soccer


Garber and the M.L.S. didn’t reply to a request for comment.

That faith and confidence could also be shattered by allegations that the Thorns ignored complaints of sexual and verbal abuse against Riley, covered for him despite firing him for his behavior and encouraged his moves to recent teams, after which worked to thwart Yates’s investigators.

For a yr, Thorns fans have been torn about the right way to straddle the road between supporting the players on a team run by people they consider are failing them, with some still attending games but boycotting merchandise and concessions stands, and others simply not going.

“Many friends and volunteering colleagues stopped attending games way back,” said Rachel Greenough, 39, who’s a member of the Rose City Riveters, a Thorns supporters group that has called for Paulson to sell. “They felt like they may not be in that stadium since it felt like an emotional burden they didn’t wish to tackle, or they didn’t want to offer money to the organization. I totally understand that.”

The team’s inaction over player complaints about Riley, and the steps several Thorns executives — including Paulson — took to assist him find one other N.W.S.L. job, can’t be blamed on ignorance. Because the report makes clear, the team knew all the things.

The Thorns, actually, dismissed Riley after the 2015 season, days after a player, Meleana Shim, made a proper criticism to the team that Riley had sexually harassed her, presided over a toxic workplace and coerced her and one other player to kiss in front of him.

That call was made, nevertheless, only after years of complaints. Riley’s sexual misconduct was an “open secret” by then — known by players, a coach, an owner and an assistant general manager for an additional team, in line with the report. Players complained in surveys. The Thorns’ athletic trainer told her superiors that Riley went against medical recommendations and endangered players. Riley also had multiple sexual relationships with players throughout his profession as a coach.

Altogether, the report painted an image of a coach who crossed every line possible and whose conduct was reported to those in charge, and yet his contract was only terminated after his team missed the playoffs for the primary time. The Thorns then actively assisted Riley with getting one other job within the N.W.S.L., with the Western Latest York Flash.

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