‘This week has been a reckoning:’ Portland Thorns head coach reacts to NWSL investigation

Portland Thorns Head Coach Rhian Wilkerson
Portland Thorns Head Coach Rhian Wilkerson(Portland Thorns)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 12:27 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Portland Thorns Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson on Thursday released a lengthy statement in reaction to this week’s NWSL investigation into abuse allegations, calling it a “week of reckoning.”

On Wednesday, two executives with the Portland Thorns were fired because they knew of sexual and emotional abuse allegations against former coach Paul Riley and did nothing meaningful to stop it, according to a statement from the organization.

The firings came after a bombshell report released by former acting Attorney General of the United States Sally Yates detailing the allegations of sexual misconduct and improper handling of reports of abusive behavior.

SEE ALSO: Portland Thorns sponsor reacts to NWSL investigation

Wilkinson expressed her pride in her team and commended the women who have come forward and “spoken so bravely about the abuses they suffered.” Wilkinson went on to describe how she sees her role going forward.

”I believe that my primary role as the coach of this team in 2022 is to protect and support my players, and I want to give them time to reflect on the recently released Yates report.”

The trouble started with allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of former Thorns head coach Paul Riley. Riley is accused of coercing a player into sexual acts. According to the report, the Portland Thorns knew about Coach Riley’s abusive behavior but failed to warn other teams.

SEE ALSO: Fans protest in support of Portland Thorns players

Wilkinson wrapped up her statement by saying she would refrain from further comment on the situation until she reads the final NWSL and NWSLPA joint investigation report.

“What is clear is that this league and the teams within it have not properly protected the players,” Wilkinson wrote. Adding, “Once all the investigations are complete, I look forward to seeing action plans and concrete steps, which must provide the opportunity for the NWSL to set a new world standard for promoting player welfare and safety.”

Tillamook Dairy, a sponsor of both the Portland Thorns and Timbers on Thursday told FOX 12 that they would reconsider their sponsorships in the future unless the organization makes "

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe also spoke out against the owner of the Timbers and Thorns, Merritt Paulson, on Thursday saying he was not fit to remain in his role.