Former NFL star Meliana Shim, who along with former coach Paul Riley is accused of sexual assault, is now accusing her club, the Portland Thorns, of forcing her to remain silent.
Last week, Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly accused their former coach Paul Riley, now 58, of sexual assault. He was fired from the Portland Thorns in 2015.
“He’s a predator. He abused us sexually and took our careers away,” Shim told NBC television on Tuesday. “Since then, not only has Paul kept me, but the club as well.”
“They silenced me on multiple topics, most notably my sexuality, and made me feel very uncomfortable.” The players have already received support from Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, the number two stars of American women’s football.
Riley moved to North Carolina Courage after being laid off from Portland, but was also fired there last week. He denied all the allegations, describing them as “completely false”. He claims he has “never had sexual relations with players and made no progress”
FIFA opened an investigation on Friday. The president of the American Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has already resigned. On Monday, Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Thorns, apologized to both players.
“We could have done more,” Paulson said. “I deeply regret our role in what clearly appears to be a systematic failure in professional women’s football.”
Increasingly, this appears to be a systematic failure. Twenty-four Venezuelan players, including Atletico Madrid’s Dina Castellanos, have accused their former coach, Kenneth Zceremita, of harassment and sexual abuse.
Zcermita headed Venezuela’s women’s and youth national team for nine years until his resignation in 2017. According to the players, it was time to break the silence to prevent physical, psychological and sexual harassment and assault.
The immediate cause of the open letter is a player’s testimony revealing that she was abused by a coach at age 14. Other players may have contacted Zseremeta as well. The Panamanian coach has been active in his homeland since 2017, where he coaches a women’s team. Not answered yet.
After the scandal in the United States, the Australian international Lisa de Fana (150 caps and 47 goals) was also opened. The Football Association of Australia hopes that players will now take the step to file a complaint so any abuse can be investigated.
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