Paul Riley: Who is British-born women’s soccer coach accused of sexual misconduct

North Carolina Courage fired head coach after players made accusations against him

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 01 October 2021 20:15
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NWSL players accuse coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion: ‘Felt under his control’

He was one of the leading coaches in US women’s soccer and had brought two NWSL championships to the North Carolina Courage.

But British-born Paul Riley was fired from his job this week after former players made allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Mr Riley, who grew up in Liverpool, also had his coaching licence suspended by US Soccer and the claims made against him have been reported to the US Center for SafeSport for investigation.

Mr Riley, 58, has spent his entire career in the US, where he first came to play collegiately at Adelphi University on New York’s Long Island, where he is in the Hall of Fame.

After leaving university he played professionally for a string of teams, including the Long Island Rough Riders, the New Jersey Eagles and the Albany Capitals.

He won the NEPSL championship twice as a player and was named the league’s MVP in 1991.

Mr Riley also worked as a coach at C.W Post university from 1986 to 1997, before coaching a string of men’s and women’s sides, including the Long Island Fury.

In 2014, Mr Riley was announced as the new head coach of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.

Mr Riley was fired by the Thorns after one season, after Meleana Shim made allegations against him to the team’s owner and general manager.

He was then immediately hired as the head coach of the North Carolina Courage, where he held the position until his firing on Thursday.

The Thorns said in a statement that their 2015 investigation into Mr Riley had uncovered “clear violations of our company policies,” but not “unlawful activity”.

The team said they reported all of their findings to the league.

Mr Riley has denied the allegations that he sexually coerced players, made by Shim and Sinead Farrelly, describing them as “completely untrue”.

“I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players,” he told The Athletic.

Mr Riley told the outlet he had socialised with players and occasionally paid their bar tabs,”but I do not take them out drinking.”

Mr Riley is the third male NWSL head coach to be fired since August, following Richie Burke’s dismissal by the Washington Spirit and Christy Holly by Racing Louisville.

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