PORTLAND, Ore — Official fan groups supporting the Portland Thorns FC and Portland Timbers soccer teams are calling for a boycott of Thorns gear and Providence Park concessions in the wake of the National Women's Soccer League sexual harassment scandal.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Rose City Riveters, the Timbers Army and the 107IST pledged to buy tickets, but nothing more, until Thorns and Timbers management agrees to a series of reforms.
Former Thorns players Sinead Farrelly and Meleana “Mana” Shim said on the Today Show Tuesday morning that Paul Riley sexually harassed them while he was coach of the Thorns, and that Thorns management pushed back against their attempts to report it.
"It is clear that the Portland Thorns organization is complicit in the NWSL's failures by actively sweeping incidents and complaints under the rug and passing issues off to others without holding offenders accountable," the statement from the fan groups reads. "It is also abundantly evident that the PTFC leadership team knew about the incidents when they were reported in 2015. This is inexcusable."
The groups are calling for Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson to be dismissed from the PTFC organization.
Other demands include the creation of an executive-level Diversity Officer position, more player say in future coaching hires, and separate general managers for the Thorns and the Timbers.
The groups said they intend to keep buying tickets to games to support the players. They plan to wear red in solidarity with the Thorns players and to bring signs that demand change.
Team owner Merritt Paulson composed an open letter to fans on Monday, several days after that report, promising more transparency and justice ahead.
Paulson said the Portland Thorns will make several changes, including:
- By the end of this week, creating a confidential and anonymous system for players to report harassment, misconduct, and discrimination.
- Launching an online form for fans to submit feedback.
- Conducting an independent investigation into what happened in 2015 and how it was investigated. The new investigation is to be made public.
- Cooperating with FIFA, US Soccer, and SafeSport investigations.
The next Thorns home game is Wednesday against the Houston Dash.