Megan Rapinoe Says 2 NWSL Owners Should Be 'Gone' After Abuse Report

The two-time World Cup champ didn't mince words after a report detailed unfettered misconduct in the league.

Two-time World Cup champ Megan Rapinoe called for the expulsion of two team owners on Thursday in the wake of a report detailing rampant abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Rapinoe, an NWSL player for Seattle’s OL Reign and a noted activist for the women’s game, called out Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler. Both ignored players’ allegations that their coaches were abusive, according to the report issued by former acting U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates.

“I don’t think Merritt Paulson is fit to be the owner of that team. I don’t think Arnim is fit to be the owner of Chicago. We need to see those people gone,” Rapinoe said, USA Today reported.

Megan Rapinoe of Seattle's OL Reign in a September 2022 NWSL match against Gotham FC.
Megan Rapinoe of Seattle's OL Reign in a September 2022 NWSL match against Gotham FC.
Ira L. Black - Corbis via Getty Images

Rapinoe said everyone complicit in the misconduct needed to be accountable.

“None of those people have shown they deserve to be around this beautiful game because they can’t even do the basic responsibilities of their job,” she said, according to USA Today. Accountability is needed “to signal to players that we’re being heard. That we are being respected and action is being taken.”

Paul Riley, who coached the Thorns under Paulson in 2014-15, is accused of sexually coercing and verbally abusing his players, yet he continued to coach in the league.

In her report, Yates wrote that the Thorns withheld information and “interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to impede our use of relevant documents.”

Paulson said he was stepping down from ownership duties until a joint investigation is released. “I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry,” he said.

Red Stars owner Whisler dismissed players’ numerous complaints of sexual comments and verbal abuse by longtime coach Rory Dames, according to the report.

Whisler has been stripped of his chairman of the board post with the franchise.

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