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NWSL agrees to demands from players union after sexual misconduct scandal

<i>Tony Quinn/ISI Photos/Getty Images</i><br/>Players union president Tori Huster:
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Tony Quinn/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Players union president Tori Huster: "Each of these demands is seen by the players as one step closer to taking our league back."

By Steve Almasy, CNN

The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association said Friday the league has agreed to meet all the players demands for cultural changes and transparency following allegations of sexual misconduct that rattled the league earlier this month.

Friday’s announcement follows NWSL interim CEO Marla Messing pledging the league would address the eight specific requests made by the players regarding the investigation into abuse allegations put forth by former players Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly.

The NWSL agreed to a joint investigation overseen by two representatives from the players union, one from the league, one team representative, and one jointly selected neutral party, the union said in a statement.

“Today is a major step in protecting player safety moving forward, but this is just the beginning,” the union said.

The committee will review instances of inappropriate conduct and aim to identify in the system.

Besides demanding an investigation the players association also had called for the union’s representatives to be involved in the selection of the next commissioner.

“Each of these demands is seen by the players as one step closer to taking our league back,” union President Tori Huster, who plays for the Washington Spirit, said Friday.

The NWSL issued a statement on Friday, noting, “As a league, we are committed to making the systemic and cultural changes necessary to create a safe environment for our players and staff, and today’s agreement to proceed with a joint investigation is an important next step in that process.”

Previously the league and union had announced separate investigations.

The sexual abuse allegations surfaced in an investigative report by The Athletic. Citing former and current players on the record, The Athletic reported former Carolina Courage Head Coach Paul Riley used his influence and power to sexually harass players.

In The Athletic report, Farrelly described how a married Riley coerced her into his hotel room to have sex. Another reported incident describes Riley coercing Farrelly and teammate Shim back to his apartment and pressuring the two to kiss each other.

The Athletic asked Riley to comment on his alleged misconduct, to which he replied the former players’ claims were “completely untrue.” According to The Athletic, Riley told them in an email: “I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players.”

Riley was fired by the North Carolina Courage earlier this month. In the Athletic report, Riley denied the accusations. CNN has not been able to reach Riley for comment.

Then commissioner Lisa Baird resigned and the league postponed the matches scheduled for that weekend.

US Soccer and FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, have announced their own investigations into the league.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s David Close, Kevin Dotson and Jacob Lev contributed to this report.

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