Former Philadelphia Independence Coach Accused by Players of “Sexual Coercion”

via Youtube (our game magazine)

Here’s a random story.

Back in 2010 and 2011, Philadelphia had a professional women’s soccer team called the “Independence,” who played their games first at West Chester and then at Widener. They were pretty damn good, and won 10 games in both seasons before the WPS folded and a new league, the NWSL, was eventually created.

The Independence were coached by a guy named Paul Riley, who has been a mainstay in American women’s soccer for a long time now. Now he’s the subject of a lengthy story at The Athletic, with former players coming out and accusing him of “sexual coercion.” One of the players in question is Haverford High School alumnus Sinead Farrelly, who played for the Independence in 2011.

From the article, written by Meg Linehan:

Early during her first season in Philadelphia, Farrelly accepted a call-up to the U.S. women’s national team. Riley told her when she returned to the Independence that she had been disloyal to her actual team and to him. She deserved to be on the national team, Riley said, but only if he was coaching it. A couple of weeks later, when the U.S. team’s coaching staff called again, she turned them down — and gave up the final spot on the 2011 World Cup roster.

At the end of that season, after the Independence lost the WPS championship, and following hours out drinking and commiserating over the loss as a team, Farrelly said she felt that Riley, who at the time was 47 years old and married, coerced her into his hotel room and they had sex. 

After WPS folded in early 2012, most of the Independence — including Farrelly — went to play for Riley on a Long Island semi-pro team, where the alleged sexual coercion continued, Farrelly said. She had sex with him and a teammate on one occasion, she said, also following a night of excessive drinking. After each encounter, she tried to pretend it had never happened, and repeated Riley’s mantra, told to her after their first night of sex, that they would be “taking this to their graves.”

And another blurb:

In addition to his alleged sexual coercion of Farrelly, Riley led Farrelly and Portland Thorns teammate Mana Shim back to his apartment after a night of drinking in 2015 and pressured them to kiss each other as he watched, according to Farrelly and Shim. Riley told them the team would avoid a grueling conditioning session if they granted his request. He also sent an unsolicited lurid picture of himself to both women, Farrelly and Shim said, and he once invited Shim to a “film session” in his hotel room and then greeted her there wearing nothing but his underwear. Farrelly, Shim and several other Thorns players from 2014-15 said Riley also made inappropriate remarks about their weight and sexual orientation. 

It’s a fascinating read, if you have the time. Riley denied the allegations in an email response to The Athletic, but for context, he’s a pretty significant figure in the women’s soccer scene. This would be the equivalent of somebody like  Nick Saban or Urban Meyer being accused of sexual misconduct.