Merritt Paulson, owner of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns and Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Portland Timbers, will not travel to Washington, D.C. for Saturday’s NWSL championship game between the Thorns and Kansas City, the team announced. In the description.
Paulson has been under pressure to sell both teams, and resigned as CEO of both the Thorns and Timbers on October 11 following the publication of the Yates Report, which found systematic sexual and emotional abuse of players in the NWSL.
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The report detailed numerous instances of managers abusing players and some executives ignoring player complaints or covering up reasons for sacking coaches. This led to accusations against former Thorns manager Paul Riley and Riley’s firing, allowing the coach to continue working in the NWSL while concealing Paulson’s role.
“Merritt is excited to play the Portland Thorns in another NWSL Championship game,” the statement read. “In view of the recent changes implemented in the organization [Paulson] They’ll be watching the game on CBS.”
Interim CEO Heather Davis, interim COO Sarah Keane and GM Carina LeBlanc will represent the franchise in Washington as the Thorns win their third league title in 10 years, the statement added.
“As Merritt shares with the team and the organization, the Portland Thorns are committed to ensuring their long-term health and success,” the statement continued.
It was not known if Paulson was present for Sunday’s 2-1 semifinal win over the San Diego Wave. Paulson was not seen at the store, and when ESPN asked several Thorn employees about his presence, each said they did not know.
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Riley was fired by the Thorns in 2015 following a complaint filed by former Thorns player Mana Shim alleging sexual harassment and coercion.
In this scandal, Paulson In 2015, the club attempted to portray its own misstep as a mistake, claiming that Riley’s contract was not renewed on the pitch while the real reason for Riley’s departure was kept from the public.
Paulson said in his resignation letter that he pledged to “make sure that what happened in 2015 never happens again,” including failing to be “publicly transparent about the termination of Paul Riley.”
But the Yates report cited Paulson as saying that before Shim’s complaint led to Riley’s termination in 2014, he received complaints from players that Riley was abusive and neglectful.
According to records obtained by Yates, Paulson continued to protect Riley’s exit from other team owners, and Shim’s allegations in 2011 He downplayed it at the end of 2019, instead voicing his support for Riley, allowing the coach to remain employed in the NWSL. Paulson was also accused of making inappropriate comments to players.
With some fans calling for Paulson to sell both teams and sponsors like Alaska Airlines directing sponsorship dollars away from the organization, Paulson fired two top executives — president of football Gavin Wilkinson and business president Mike Golub — before stepping down as CEO.