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Why the NWSL scandal will be hard to brush off | Ciara McCormack

The National Women's Soccer League [NWSL] was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct made aga...



Why the NWSL scandal will be h...
Soccer

Why the NWSL scandal will be hard to brush off | Ciara McCormack

The National Women's Soccer League [NWSL] was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct made against coach Paul Riley that led to games being cancelled over the past weekend.

Former Ireland international, Ciara McCormack joined Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan on Tuesday's OTBAM to discuss the scandal.

"[This time] does feel different," McCormack said when asked if the allegations would be treated with the seriousness with which they deserve.

"The fact that they have just announced a former US Attorney General that is going to be investigating [the allegations].

"I think a huge part of these things is, normally the clubs are allowed to self-investigate and what always happens is, it is a PR job wrapped up in an 'investigation.'

"If there is transparency, which it sounds like there will be from this AG that US Soccer has hired, that is definitely a hopeful sign."

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident in women's football, the NWSL, or sport in general. McCormack is all too aware of this fact, having recently described women's football as rife with sexual misconduct.

McCormack has witnessed similar incidents in Canada, something she outlined in a blog post in 2019 titled "A Horrific Canadian Soccer Story – The Story No One Wants to Listen To, But Everyone Needs to Hear."

McCormack outlined the challenges that she and her colleagues faced when attempting to highlight the issues around coach Bob Birarda, then a coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Canadian under-20 national side.

Birarda, who was charged with multiple sex offences in 2020, was in a position of power in that he had a major impact on the progression of his players and their careers. This led to many women, who were coached by Birarda, to remain silent for long periods of time.

"For my case, I did feel that I had hit a point where I either had to decide between my integrity and speaking up and watching this guy absolutely abuse his power," McCormack said.

"I was lucky that I had dual citizenship and had my Irish passport in my back pocket. I knew I had a way out. Most of those players did not have that. Over the last 12 years, people have been picking up the pieces in our situation."

McCormack is hopeful that the latest episode surrounding Riley and the NWSL, who was fired by the North Carolina Courage on Thursday, will be the final straw.

"As female players, this crap has been going on for so long," McCormack continued.

"It is upsetting when you think about, as women, the things we have to endure to play the game. It does feel with the number of eyes on everything that is going on, I do not think it is going to be able to be swept under the rug."

Regardless, the NWSL will face a difficult road ahead in its attempts to ensure that its athlete's safety is of paramount importance.

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Read more about

Bob Birarda NWSL North Carolina Courage Paul Riley US Football Vancouver Whitecaps Women's Football