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NWSL permanently bans former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley after misconduct reports

The National Women's Soccer League is imposing disciplinary actions on individuals and teams in response to reports that found systematic abuse across the league.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley is permanently banned from the National Women's Soccer League, the league announced on Monday. 

His ban is part of a series of new disciplinary actions imposed on individuals and teams in response to the Covington report, released in mid-December, which confirmed the conclusions of the Yates Report released in mid-October that found many of the same issues: Systematic and widespread misconduct and abuse in the league going back nearly a decade. 

Riley was one of multiple former coaches cited in the reports. Two former Thorns players accused him of harassment and sexual coercion, which Riley denied.

The NWSL said Monday it permanently banned four former league coaches, including Riley, and either suspended or made future employment with the NWSL on a conditional basis for several others in team management or leadership roles.

"The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first," said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman in a news release. "Those actions are fundamental to the future of our league, especially as we build a league that strengthens our players’ ability to succeed and prosper on and off the pitch."

The Thorns will also be required to pay $1 million. Former Thorns CEO and owner Merritt Paulson previously pledged $1 million to support the creation of the NWSL Player Safety Office, which the Yates Report recommended.

The NWSL Players Association released a statement on Twitter.

"This marks a critical step towards holding clubs and team leaders accountable for their actions, or inactions, that compromised and betrayed player safety. People in positions of power who have perpetuated harm on Players have been relieved of their duties, banned from the League, suspended or fined," the NWSL Players Association said.

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