National Women’s Soccer League Investigation


Girard Sharp lawyers are investigating potential claims on behalf of employees of the National Women’s Soccer League who experienced abuse.

Recent reports concerning public accusations of abuse indicate the league fostered a persistent culture of toxicity and abuse, including sexual assault, personal insults, and threats. The reports also indicate an institutional failure on the part of leaders of the league to respond appropriately and protect employees from harm.  

Did you experience abuse while employed by the NWSL? You may have a claim for relief. Protect your rights by speaking with a Girard Sharp attorney at (866) 981-4800 or by filling out the form below:

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An article published in The Athletic on September 30, 2021 reports that former NWSL coach Paul Riley sexually abused women on his teams over the course of his career in the league since 2010. The piece included allegations by more than a dozen players that Riley coached, including two who were willing to identify themselves.

Complaints about Paul Riley’s behavior were known to the NWSL as early as 2015. Before coaching the North Carolina Courage, Riley coached for the Portland Thorns, where he was hired in 2014 and fired in 2015 due to similar allegations. After The Athletic’s article appeared, the Thorns released a statement of their own, saying they had immediately notified the NWSL of their investigation into his actions at the time. Despite knowledge of these claims, the NWSL kept Riley as an employee and transferred him to new teams where his abuse is believed to have continued.

The Courage fired Paul Riley on September 30, 2021, immediately following publication of the Athletic article. The NWSL statement reads: In light of today’s reports, the North Carolina Courage have terminated Head Coach Paul Riley, effective immediately, following serious allegations of misconduct. […] As previously stated, players and staff are encouraged to report any inappropriate behavior in accordance with NWSL policy as we prioritize efforts to maintain the highest professional standards of conduct throughout our organization.

The U.S. Soccer Federation has also suspended Riley’s coaching license.

According to a New York Times report on October 1, Riley’s dismissal came two days after another team’s coach was fired for what one player described as threats and personal insults, and several months after the National Women’s Soccer League’s commissioner Lisa Baird appeared to reject, via email, a player’s effort to raise concerns about a coach’s behavior.

The Times further reported that the NWSL commissioner had resigned under pressure from employees for her handling of abuse accusations.

Are you a member of NWSL who was affected by abusive conduct? You may have a claim for relief.


Girard Sharp has substantial experience in class action and other complex litigation on behalf of sexual abuse survivors. Our Sexual Abuse and Women’s Advocacy attorneys have a track record of successfully taking on some of the world’s largest corporations and institutions on these issues. We served as co-lead counsel in a class action against the University of Southern California and campus gynecologist George Tyndall M.D., on behalf of women who were sexually abused by Tyndall during his long tenure at USC. A federal judge approved a class action settlement with USC and the claims process has now concluded, with universal praise from class members for the compassionate and generous approach to making victims whole. The settlement requires USC to adopt and implement procedures for identification, prevention and reporting of sexual and racial misconduct, as well as recognize the harm done to all of Tyndall’s patients. The settlement establishes a $215 million fund and gives every survivor a choice in how to participate. Our lawyers also filed a class action lawsuit against UCLA on behalf of women treated by UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Heaps. Heaps was charged with sexual battery and exploitation of patients while working as a staff gynecologist at UCLA—a position he held for almost thirty years. The UC Regents agreed to resolve the claims for $73,000,000, plus injunctive relief measures, and the District Court granted final approval of that settlement.

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