Oct 1, 2021 - Sports

NWSL cancels games amid sexual harassment, abuse allegations

The official game ball awaits the match before a game between OL Reign and Racing Louisville FC at Lynn Family Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky

Photo: Lee Klafczynski/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The National Women's Soccer League on Friday canceled games scheduled for this weekend amid widespread allegations of harassment and abuse.

Driving the news: "This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played," NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said.

  • "Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect."

The big picture The announcement comes as players across the league are speaking up and detailing cases of harassment and abuse, often at the hands of male coaches, Axios' Kendall Baker reports.

  • The North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley on Thursday over allegations of sexual coercion, which span multiple teams and go back more than a decade.
  • The Washington Spirit this week also fired coach Richie Burke following a harassment investigation.
  • The players' union, which is currently negotiating its first contract, called for an end to "systemic abuse plaguing the NWSL."
  • "Words cannot adequately capture our anger, pain, sadness, and disappointment," the union wrote.

What they're saying: "Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better," Baird wrote.

  • "We have made this decision in collaboration with our players association and this pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue."

Go deeper: NWSL in crisis after sexual harassment, abuse allegations

Go deeper