Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan Speak Out After Soccer Coach Is Fired Amid Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are standing by two soccer players that accused North Carolina coach Paul Riley of sexual misconduct. The team said Riley was fired due to the "serious allegations."

By Lindsay Weinberg Sep 30, 2021 11:43 PMTags
Watch: Megan Rapinoe & Alex Morgan Throwback: Live From E! Rewind

The North Carolina Courage fired its head coach "following very serious allegations of misconduct," the professional women's soccer team wrote in a statement on social media on Thursday, Sept. 30.

The team terminated coach Paul Riley effective immediately, after The Athletic published a report about his alleged abusive behavior this week.

"The Courage support the players who have come forward and we commend them for bravely sharing their stories," read the statement from the players, staff and principal owner. "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."

It continued, "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." 

According to The Athletic, former soccer player Sinead Farrelly said she experienced "multiple incidents where she felt coerced into having sex with her coach." She was coached by Riley during her time with the Philadelphia Independence, New York Fury and Portland Thorns, telling the outlet, "I felt under his control."

Premier League Soccer Stars

Mana Shim, who also played for Riley in Portland, said, "I felt from the beginning like I owed him." The Athletic wrote, according to the women, "Riley led Shim and Farrelly back to his apartment after a night of drinking and asked them to kiss each other for him in exchange for the team not having to do a grueling conditioning exercise." 

Riley told the publication that the majority of the allegations against him are "completely untrue," saying in an email, "I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players."

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via AP Images; Cal Sports Media via AP Images

Two-time World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe spoke out on Thursday, expressing support for the fellow soccer players and their decision to come forward with claims. "Mana & Sinead you are so strong & we are with you," she tweeted.

The OL Reign star then said "F--K YOU" to "everyone in a position of power who let this happen, heard it & dismissed it, signed off on this monster moving to another team w/zero repercussions." Rapinoe called for their immediate resignations.

She went on to say it was a case of "men, protecting men, who are ABUSING WOMEN." Rapinoe added, "Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll." 

Her former co-captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team, Alex Morgan, also said she stands with the two women. "I am sickened and have too many thoughts to share at this moment. Bottom line: protect your players," she tweeted

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Morgan called on the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and urged them to "accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse."

NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said she was "shocked and disgusted to read the new allegations," per her statement about the claims against Riley. She wrote, "The league, in concert with the North Carolina Courage, as reacted swiftly in response to these new allegations, and former head coach Paul Riley has been terminated."

She said the allegations have been reported to the US Center for SafeSport for investigation.

In addition, the Portland Thorns addressed the accusations against Riley that allegedly occurred during his two-year tenure as coach for the team. In their public statement, the team said they were hearing about "much" of the claims for the "first" time. 

However, the Thorns said a prior complaint about the coach resulted in his departure. "Immediately upon receiving a complaint from a player in 2015, we conducted a thorough investigation advised by an outside law firm and placed Riley on administrative leave," the unsigned message read. "While the findings did not show unlawful activity, they did uncover clear violations of our company policies. Based on this, we chose to sever ties with Riley."

The Thorns said the findings of the investigation were "fully shared" with the NWSL league office.

E! News reached out to Riley for comment and did not hear back.

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit