Sunday, November 28

Arizona coaches among those who denounce the NWSL’s toxic culture – archyde

Becca Moro, the University of Arizona soccer coach, is one of those ex-pro players pointing out the toxic cultures of the NWSL. (Photo by Andy Mead / YCJ / Icon Sportswire / Corbis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – For years, a culture of silence allowed systemic abuse, harassment and racism to smolder within the National Women’s Soccer League.

Now, the current players in the league – along with former greats like University of Arizona soccer coach Becca Moros – are using their votes to bring the harmful behavior to light.

“What has bred this culture of silence is the fear that you can either shut up or lose your entire career,” said Moros. “The only power you have is to go away.”

Last year, Dell Loy Hansen, the owner of Utah Royals FC, was forced to sell his football stakes after it was revealed he had engaged in racist behavior and sexism in the front office. The Washington Spirit has faced numerous problems that year. In August, an assistant left the club after making inappropriate comments to players at a party. In September, Spirit trainer Richie Burke was fired from the NWSL for good cause after an investigation into his verbal and emotional insults to players.

Then there is the case of North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who made headlines in September when former players accused him of sexual assault and misconduct. He was then released.

North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley made headlines in September when former players accused him of sexual assault and misconduct. He was then released. (Photo by Lewis Gettier / ISI Photos / Getty Images)

Enough is enough

NWSL athletes use their voices to end systemic abuse, harassment and racism that have long prevailed in the “Old Boys Club” that makes up professional football.

This is very different from the way players used to react to wrongdoing.

In fact, most of the time they didn’t react at all, given the wall of silence that often still exists within the NWSL.

For decades, players were expected to keep the secrets behind closed doors within the league and individual clubs. With two previous attempts at women’s professional football in the United States failing (the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer), league and team executives have had a tremendous impact on silencing the players.

“There was definitely a shared idea that because two leagues have collapsed in the past, the NWSL was the last hope for a women’s football league,” US national team striker Alex Morgan told The Athletic’s Meg Linehan. “Because of this, I feel that we should be grateful for what we have and not ask important questions – or ask questions at all.”

Nobody knows this better than Moros, the Wildcats trainer who, as a professional player, has observed borderline illegal behavior.

Moros played in both the WPS and the NWSL for a number of teams, including the WPS MagicJack and the Portland Thorns in the NWSL – teams that were particularly controversial.

She described the WPS as “a mess”. The magicJack, a team that originally started out as Washington Freedom before renaming it and moving to Florida, was no different. MagicJack’s group of owners was “by far the most abusive thing I’ve seen,” said Moros, who spent half of the 2011 season with the club. She said she was one of the lucky ones to get out.

“MagicJack was run like a mafia,” said Moros, adding that Dan Borislow, the owner, “controlled everything”.

“Everyone who worked for him owned their apartment. If they crossed it, they would be on the road in a day. (The team) didn’t have a real doctor. It was just a really abusive environment, ”said Moros. “We all lived in this beautiful apartment building, but the people who ran the surveillance cameras always warned me that we were being watched. It was just a scary place.

“There were some people in-house on the team, or somewhere, telling the owners about every twist and turn the players took so they somehow knew where the people were at all times.”

Generous spending

Borislov was known for his fondness for expensive dinners. He’d shut down fine restaurants and brought players straight from practice. “We’re the only people in there, eating snails and drinking $ 300 wine,” said Moros.

“It was a different, strange world,” she said. “Nobody was really prepared for it. None of us had ever seen or read such things to know which red flags went up there. “

The cities and teams changed over the years, but the flags kept popping up.

Riley, a player who became a coach from England with a long career in the United States, was fired by North Carolina Courage in September 2021 after he was accused of sexually assaulting and verbally abusing players on his team. He too had closed bars with his players in the past, The Athletic reported.

Riley coached Moros in 2014, the year she was in Portland. There is constant speculation that it was inappropriate, she said, but Moros and most of her teammates had no evidence of actual wrongdoing.

“He has put himself with the team in situations where he wanted to be near the team and close to the team, in environments that were less than necessary for a coach,” she said.

Moros said she was not surprised or shocked to hear of the allegations of wrongdoing against Riley. On October 1st, the day after The Athletic story was published, the NWSL made the extraordinary decision to cancel this weekend’s games. Announcing the decision, Commissioner Lisa Baird said: “This week and much of this season has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff. We decided not to enter the field this weekend in order to give everyone some space to think. Business as usual is currently not our concern. ”

Later that day, Baird resigned as commissioner after evidence showed she did not respond to player requests to investigate Riley further during his various coaching roles, which included his tenure with multiple teams.

“It was a bigger shock to learn that it had been reported and investigated and not eradicated earlier,” said Moros. “I think that was probably a bigger shock to the community when people were made aware of this and swept under the rug and allowed to continue exercising and possibly doing similar things with other people than (the Portland Thorns) had the information, to know what was going on and could have stopped earlier. “

Related story

The cycle of silence is insidious, a culture that the clubs and owners have nurtured for years. Rather than reporting the results of an investigation and taking the necessary action – as has been the case in some other professional sports leagues – the Thorns chose not to simply renew Riley’s contract so that he could continue to practice professional football elsewhere.

It is similar to the concept of institutional betrayal, “where the institution continues to betray that victim by not addressing the situation well or by continuing to allow the perpetrator to thrive or hide in that institution,” said Grace French, President of Army of Survivors, an organization that supports survivors of sexual violence.

Moros agreed with Morgan’s assessment of football culture, saying she would argue the same.

“The league was built on the back of the local players, the non-national team, the non-national players, the players who had very few rights and whose contracts are not protected,” Moros said simply cutting at any moment. They can be traded at any time. There is no accountability or responsibility on the part of clubs to create appropriate environments. ”

Not being protected means that players have no voice, no power to defend themselves against a coach or property.

The NWSL Players Association sent the league a letter on Oct. 6 calling for numerous changes, including working with the union’s independent investigation into sexual misconduct and abuse, being transparent about any inquiries that the NWSL has already conducted – including disseminating the results of the League’s investigation into Riley and involving the union in the search for a new NWSL commissioner. The league agreed to these demands on October 29th.

Following the league’s announcement, Tori Huster, President of the Players Association and Washington Spirit midfielder, said, “Each of these demands are seen by the players as one step closer to taking our league back.”

But on Monday, just 48 hours after leading the Chicago Red Stars to the NWSL Championship, coach Rory Dames resigned on allegations of verbal and emotional insults and pushing boundaries with players.

Sometimes it seems like the culture of the NWSL is really changing. But maybe it’s too early to say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *