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Players accuse former Philadelphia Independence manager Paul Riley of sexual misconduct

Photo: PSP archives

Two players have accused former Philadelphia Independence manager Paul Riley of sexual misconduct during their time playing for him.

The allegations, published in a deeply reported story by Meg Linehan of The Athletic, paint a picture of a coach who abused his players at practice, took them out drinking on a regular basis, and used his power to pressure them into unwanted sexual activity.

Sinead Farrelly, a former midfielder for the new defunct Independence, says in the article that she felt Riley coerced her into sex following the Independence’s defeat in the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer championship game.

“I felt under his control,” says Farrelly, who describes multiple situations where she felt coerced into having sex with Riley. Farrelly also says that Riley pressured her to decline a call-up to the USWNT in 2011.

The Independence folded along with the rest of Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS) in early 2012. Riley went on to coach the Portland Timbers in NWSL. Linehan reports that, in 2015, Riley pressured Farrelly and midfielder Meleana “Mana” Shim to kiss each other in his apartment.

In a statement to The Athletic, Riley said that he had “never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players.”

The Thorns let Riley go at the end of the 2015 season. Not long after, he became coach of the North Carolina Courage — a position he held until today, as the Courage fired Riley this afternoon.  The article details the frustrations of several NWSL players, including USWNT superstar Alex Morgan, with the “institutional failure” surrounding the league’s treatment of Riley and a perceived lack of transparency and protection for the league’s players.

Women’s professional soccer has been absent from the Philadelphia area since the Independence folded nearly a decade ago.

This article has been updated with information about Riley’s termination by the Courage.

One Comment

  1. I hate that stories like this need to be written. Why can’t people treat each other better?

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