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NWSL's North Carolina Courage fire coach Paul Riley amid misconduct allegations

NWSL's North Carolina Courage fire coach Paul Riley amid misconduct allegations
North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley, shown Oct. 14, 2017, was fired by the club following allegations of inappropriate conduct. Photo courtesy of BDZ Sports/Wikimedia Commons

Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The North Carolina Courage of the National Women's Soccer League fired head coach Paul Riley on Thursday following "serious allegations of misconduct" spanning more than a decade, the club announced.

The announcement came after The Athletic published an investigative report that featured comments from more than a dozen players from every team Riley has coached since 2010, including two named players who went on the record with allegations against him.

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In the report, Riley was accused of sexual coercion and making inappropriate comments about players' weight and sexual orientation.

"In light of today's reports, the North Carolina Courage have terminated head coach Paul Riley, effective immediately, following serious allegations of misconduct," the team said in a statement. "The Courage support the players who have come forward and we commend them for bravely sharing their stories.

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"The North Carolina Football Club is united together in our commitment to creating a safe, positive, and respectful environment, not only within our club but across the league and our great sport.

"As previously stated, players and staff are encouraged to report any inappropriate behavior in accordance with NWSL policy as we prioritize efforts to maintain the highest professional standards of conduct throughout our organization."

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The Courage announced that Sean Nahas will be the team's interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

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The U.S. Soccer Federation also suspended Riley's coaching license effective immediately, saying in a statement that the "abusive behavior described by the courageous athletes who have come forward is repulsive, unacceptable and has zero place in soccer or society."

Earlier Thursday, the NWSL Players Association demanded an investigation into Riley, who refuted most of the accusations. In an email to The Athletic, the coach said a majority of the allegations were "completely untrue."

NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird issued a statement Thursday saying she was "shocked" and "disgusted" by the allegations.

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"A safe and secure work environment is a top priority for the league and its collective ownership," Baird said. "The league has in place a comprehensive anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policy.

"We are implementing a new anonymous reporting process, whereby players, team and league staff may text concerns to the league, which will be promptly investigated. We ask our players and all associated with the league to raise their concerns to us, as we continue to make our league a safe, positive, and respectful environment for our players, clubs, staff, and fans."

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