Last week I asked “what now?”.
What do we, the Thorns fans, want to see from the club (and, presumably, from the league…)
Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but as of yesterday the 107ist wants this:
- Implement a transparent and proactive safety, training, and accountability plan that is approved by the players.
- Create an executive-level Diversity Officer position, which will be filled by a candidate with more than 10 years of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) experience and a proven track record of building and implementing an organizational inclusion roadmap.
- Demonstrate transparency that players’ voices will be prominent in the hiring of the next Thorns coach — and any future coaches — as well as information about who will be responsible for background checks and vetting of any new staff.
- Hire separate general managers for the Thorns and the Timbers.
- Create a Club Culture and Player Liaison position for each team whose sole purpose is to mentor and support players from the academy on up. This role should also help transition any new players when they are signed.
- Disclose who has been secured to complete the new investigation of the 2015 events and subsequent investigation.
- Influence the league’s fulfillment of the NWSLPA demands and take local action to satisfy these demands, including immediate suspension of any staff member who violated the current anti-harassment policy or failed to report the alleged violation.
All of these are phrased as “demands”, and the fan organization is requesting that fans boycott merch and concessions to pressure the FO to give into these demands.
I won’t kid you; I’m very much on the fence about all this.
First and foremost because it’s a “demand”. A demand isn’t a negotiating point, or an opening offer. It’s just that; an “or else” – you do this or we come at you hard.
So…what happens if, say, the FO hires the DO/CCPL positions but insist on a single GM, and insist that Wilkinson, while an arrogant dick, has done nothing that amounts to a fireable offense? Does that mean it’s okay to get one and only one beer per match?
But kidding aside…what happens if they don’t give on any of these? Do we continue to hit Merritt in the wallet? Forever? Keep in mind those $12 Widmers help pay Emily Menges and Nadine Angerer, too. Are these demands a hill we’re going to die on?
This isn’t the Iron Front, it’s not an issue of politics, speech, or opinion but of the fundamental relationship between club and fans; what happened in 2014-15 was appalling and possibly criminal, and it’s entirely possible that people in the organization – including Wilkinson and possibly Paulson – committed acts (including acts of omission…) that rise to actionable levels. This is a huge deal in the future of this club and its fans.
But, here’s the second thing; there’s just a shit-ton that we don’t fucking know about 2015 that makes “demands” seem kind of a rage-quit.
We don’t know exactly what happened in 2015. We don’t have the results of the club’s investigation…or anything about the investigation, including it’s extent and depth. We don’t know what the FO knew about that rapey bastard Riley. We don’t know if Wilkinson was dirty (other than being an arrogant dick, in which case something like 15% of all corporate officers everywhere should be collecting unemployment).
We can certainly suspect and guess – I know what I think, and it’s ugly! – but we don’t know.
The USSF has hired Sally Yates to investigate the league-wide issues, including the Thorns in 2015. (The league has hired Amanda Kramer, whose Greatest Hit was failing to prosecute Riley-on-steroids rapey scumbag Jeffrey Epstein, so I have no confidence in the league’s inquiry.)
But Yates is a bulldog – she got canned from the Georgia federal attorney’s office for telling Trump where to shove his “Muslim Ban” back in 2017 – and I think she’ll chase these people down.
So my other problem with this is that I think these demands are a cry of rage, and rage that runs ahead of what Yates will tell us.
And, like things done in rage, they have a dangerous chance put the fans and the club on a collision course that neither is going to be willing to turn away from.
Should there be a stand-alone Thorns GM? Yes! (And it should NOT be Wilkinson – sorry, dude; when you gaslighted Mana Shim you torpedoed and sank yourself without a trace…)
Should there be an independent oversight position to “mentor and support players” – AND keep a side-eye on the club management? Yes!
Should there be players on a Thorns “governing council” that will be involved in operations, especially hiring? Yes!
Yes! to so many of these demands.
But are we doing this in a way that can make them happen?
Or are we setting ourselves and the club up to fight to the death?
I honestly don’t know.
But the tone of these demands – angry, implacable, unyielding – makes me very, very worried that we might be.
So add to being sad and sick and angry…now I’m worried that we’re headed for a collision between club and fans.
Update 10/6 (p.m.) – This afternoon the Thorns players released a list of their demands in response to the Riley revelations. They are:
- An immediate investigation, for the duration of which Wilkinson will be placed on “adminstrative leave” from the Thorns only.
- A “increase in diversity” in the club’s board, and
- That the players get a “seat at the table” (what this means isn’t specified; presumably meaning player reps in the FO) to “increase transparency, accountability, and cooperation” between the players and the FO
All of which seems eminently reasonable, practical, and workable…although we’ll have to see what “diversity” and “seats at the table” mean in practice.
And to me there’s an open question re: Wilkinson’s “admin leave” – given the small size of the FO and how interconnected the clubs are, is it really workable to have Wilkinson working on the Timbers side of the house but not the Thorns? Seems like it will be hard to keep him out of the way of the Thorns players, which seems like the idea during this time.
We’ll now have to wait and see what the various (and numerous! – fucking FIFA has one, too..!) investigations turn up.
Until then, I think it’s okay to buy a Modelo.