Players stopped on the field in the sixth minute of Wednesday night's National Women’s Soccer League games and linked arms in a circle to demonstrate solidarity with two former players who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against a prominent coach.
The move in the sixth minute was in recognition of the six years it took for the allegations that former Portland players Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly made against Riley to come to light.
“Tonight, we reclaim our place on the field, because we will not let our joy be taken from us,” the NWSL Players' Association said in a statement released Wednesday night. “But this is not business as usual.”
The league returned to the field Wednesday night after calling off last weekend's games while it came to terms with the allegations leveled last week against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was subsequently fired.
Earlier Wednesday, the owner of the Courage apologized for the franchise's “failure” to create an environment where players felt safe in coming forward.
Courage owner Steve Malik’s statement in an open letter was the team’s first public comment beyond the announcement of Riley’s dismissal last Thursday. The allegations rocked the league and led to the resignation of National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird.