Fans protest in support of players named in detailed investigation into allegations made against Portland Thorns

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:41 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A bombshell report released today detailed alarming accusations across the National Women’s Soccer League. The details include former and current members of the Portland Thorns leadership.

They are accused of failing to take appropriate action against allegations of misconduct, abuse and in some cases, sexual harassment against players. The team’s owner, former coach, and general manager are all named in the investigation.

Fans came out Monday to show support for the players named in an in-depth investigation into allegations made against several National Women’s Soccer League teams, including the Portland Thorns. Some said although not surprising, the details in the 200-page report were even worse than they had expected.

Merritt Paulson protects abusers,” protestors chanted.

The scathing 200-page report details allegations of sexual and emotional abuse within the Portland Thorns organization and across the National Women’s Soccer League.

SEE ALSO: Abuse in women’s pro soccer league was systemic, report says

Protestors came to Providence Park to speak out against what the report calls “systemic” abuse.

“It’s sickening. It’s time to stop,” Suzanne Delgado, a protestor, said.

The US Soccer Federation retained former district attorney Sally Yates to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of misconduct and abusive behavior in women’s professional soccer. Yates and her team say Thorns owner Merritt Paulson knew about accusations against former head coach Paul Riley. And that none of that information was shared when Riley was looking for other jobs in the league. The documents go on to say that former Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson said Riley was quote “put in a bad position by a player” and that he said he would quote “hire Riley in a heartbeat”.

“The evidence keeps mounting and this front office is not responsive,” Amy Cothron, a protestor, said.

The current president of the US Soccer Federation Cindy Parlow Cone said she was disturbed by the overall report into the National Women’s Soccer League.

“This is very emotional for me and I’m having trouble absorbing everything in the report,” Cone said.

Protestors we spoke with had different views on exactly what should be done. But many did agree on this.

“Definitely want the firing of Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub. And even up to selling the team from Paulson,” Cothron said.

“I would like to see Merritt Paulson gone,” Delgado said.

Three former Thorns players. Two who are named in the report released a joint statement regarding the findings of this investigation. It reads in part:

“There have been too many years of inaction and too many empty promises made while players suffered at the hands of the league… they chose to ignore us and silence us, allowing the abuse to continue.”

Fans said navigating their love for the team and players has been tricky.

“Supporting the players without supporting the front office,” Cothron said. “I feel like supporting the players is definitely priority one for us.”

Yates also gave some recommendations. Implement practices for accurately reporting misconduct to the Soccer Federation, properly vetting coaches, requiring sexual misconduct training, and reminding players of their rights.