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North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley talks to his team in 2020. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After years of silence, NWSL players are speaking up — detailing cases of harassment and abuse, often at the hands of male coaches.

Driving the news: The North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley on Thursday amid allegations of sexual coercion that span over a decade and involve multiple teams.

  • The announcement comes after The Athletic published an investigation (subscription) in which journalist Meg Linehan talked to over a dozen players from every team Riley has coached since 2010.
  • Two players — Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim — went on the record with allegations that included Riley coercing Farrelly into having sex and sending both women unsolicited sexual pictures.

What they're saying: Riley, in an email to The Athletic, said the majority of the allegations are "completely untrue."

  • NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said she was "disgusted" and that the league will implement a new anonymous reporting process.

The big picture: This is not an isolated case for a league that had only one female coach entering the season. Just this week, the Washington Spirit fired Richie Burke following a harassment investigation.

  • "There definitely has been this shared idea that because two leagues have folded in the past, the NWSL is kind of the last hope for a women's soccer league," USWNT star Alex Morgan told The Athletic.
  • "Because of that, I feel like there's this idea that we should be grateful for what we have and we shouldn't raise important questions — or ask questions at all."
  • Players and team employees are starting to breach that code of silence, shining a disturbing light on the league's culture and labor practices.

What's next: The NWSL players' association is currently negotiating its first contract. Safety is a key part of its demands, along with economic rights and issues like free agency.

  • "The NWSL has failed us," the union said in a statement. "We are taking our power back."
  • "Men, protecting men, who are abusing women," Megan Rapinoe tweeted. "Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll."

Go deeper: NCAA to use "March Madness" brand for women's basketball tournament

Go deeper

13 hours ago - Sports

Chicago Blackhawks failed to investigate sexual harassment allegation, report says

Photo: John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks released the findings of an independent investigation Tuesday that centered on "disturbing" sexual misconduct allegations dating back to 2010.

Driving the news: The report found that the team's senior management had "violated" the Blackhawks' own sexual harassment policy and failed to properly address sexual harassment and assault allegations.

Study: Amateurism costs Black college athletes billions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Black football and basketball players in the Power Five conferences lost approximately $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion per year from 2005 to 2019 — or roughly $250,000 a year per athlete — according to a new study.

Why it matters: "Casual observers of college sports recognize an unspoken truth — that unpaid, predominantly Black labor in football and basketball powers the multibillion-dollar enterprise of amateurism, enriching and benefiting coaches, administrators, and other athletes who are overwhelmingly White," wrote Ted Tatos and Hal Singer in an opinion piece about their research.

Bears tackled by COVID-19 outbreak

Caption: Head coach Matt Nagy stands on the sidelines during a game against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Photo: Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Bears head coach Matt Nagy has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be away from the team until clearing protocols, the organization announced yesterday.

Why it matters: Nagy becomes the seventh Bears coach or player to enter COVID protocol over the last two weeks. If the Bears cannot field a team for their game on Sunday, they may have to forfeit.