NWSL cancels weekend games in wake of abuse allegations

Washington Spirit celebrate after Washington Spirit forward Ashley Sanchez (10) scores a goal during the second half against the Kansas City at Legends Field.
© William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

All National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) games this weekend have been canceled as the league deals with the fallout from sexual misconduct allegations against one former coach and multiple different reports of alleged abuse of players.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played. I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement released on Friday.

“Business as usual isn’t our concern right now. Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better. We have made this decision in collaboration with our players association and this pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue.”

Baird and NWSL general counsel Lisa Levine were ousted by the league's board of directors hours after the news, The Athletic reports.

On Thursday, North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was terminated by the team after a story from The Athletic broke alleging that multiple former players accused Riley of sexual coercion. Also on Thursday, the NWSL Players Association released a statement on Twitter calling for league-wide changes and establishing a hotline where players can report future cases of misconduct.


Earlier this week, the Washington Spirit fired their own head coach Richie Burke and the team was sanctioned following an investigation into alleged violations of the National Women's Soccer League's anti-harassment policy.

The Spirit were originally scheduled to play the Courage in Cary, N.C. on Friday at 7 p.m.