Ein blick von das Tor

On Wednesday, October 27th, Nadine Angerer posted a statement on her Twitter feed discussing the events of this summer, those of 2015, and her viewpoint on them both.

We the fans have had no other inside information about the events of that season that lead to the current outrage over the criminal acts of then-coach Paul Riley other than the work of Meg Linehan at the Athletic.

We have the demands of the current Thorns players.

But little else.

Angerer now provides us another data point.

You can read her post on Twitter, but I’ve included the screencaps here:

Image by Nadine Angerer on Twitter
Image by Nadine Angerer on Twitter
Image by Nadine Angerer on Twitter

Here’s what I find intriguing about this – assuming that Angerer is being bluntly truthful of her memories of the 2014-15 seasons and her convictions now.

It’s worth noting that while she was on one side of the shop floor in 2015 she’s on the other now. Could becoming management have altered Angerer’s views? Well, as the old music hall number goes:

“The working class
Can kiss my ass
I’ve got the foreman’s job at last.”

I think – I want to think – Angerer is an honest woman.

But she wouldn’t be the first to see things differently from the C-suite then from on the assembly line. That’s worth keeping in mind.

But – assuming she is being truthful – first because it suggests that I was wrong in assuming as I did when I wrote my original post about the events of 2015 that it was impossible for Riley to have been criming on Farrelly and Shim without there being some sort of rumors or gossip within the club about his activities.

Angerer blames herself for not doing enough to help her teammates. But the way I read her statement is that she blames herself for not looking for the crimes, rather than knowing of them (or, at least, suspecting because of those “rumors and gossip”) and failing to stop them or at least bring them to light.

She seems to be confessing to a fault of omission, rather than commission.

If one of the players could be unaware of Riley’s acts, then by inference the Front Office might not have been either.

Which – let me emphasize – doesn’t relieve them from the responsibility that they should have known.

The old Army saying covers this; “You may delegate authority but not responsibility.” It is the responsibility of a team owner, management, and the coaching staff, to provide a safe and healthy place for their players to train, work, and play.

The Thorns FO did not, and the culpability for that – depending on the degree to which and the skill at which Riley worked to hide his crimes from them – is on them.

Second, because of the degree to which Angerer steps up hard in defense of Gavin Wilkinson.

Both as a part of the Front Office (and as such responsible for the team’s working conditions) and, specifically, as a supporter and defender of Angerer’s personal life and relationships.

Particularly where Angerer says that Wilkinson “…has always been supportive of me and my wife living openly, honestly, and has never discouraged us from being authentic selves.”

Because in the Linehan piece Mana Shim stated that Wilkinson

“…instructed her to not be as vocal about off-the-field matters. We don’t talk about being gay or having pride. We play soccer. Wilkinson also praised one of the team’s best players and her reticence to discuss anything but soccer in interviews.” 

~Meg Linehan, The Athletic, 2021

Is Angerer the “team’s best player” who Wilkinson praised to Shim for her reticence? Is this a current member of the Thorns management sticking up for her supervisor? Is this just Angerer standing up to a manager she believes was important in making her life here possible, giving the guy his props for having her back?

Or is Angerer laying down a reply – a rebuttal – to Shim?

Is this a 2015 player saying that her experience at that time suggests that, as Wilkinson has claimed, he would never have said anything similar to what Shim claims he said?

I cannot see into anyone’s heart but my own, so I cannot be sure which of the above is true.

What I think it does is restate the importance of the proposed league and player association inquiry into the events of 2015; what happened, how did it happen, and, most importantly, who knew, and was it possible that the people involved should have known. Of being patient until that inquiry is completed.

Right now Angerer’s statement is just a data point. We don’t know what she could have known, what her viewpoint from the goal could or should have been. We know what she believes, but how objective – or not – are those beliefs?

There’s not hope in Hell that Angerer’s words on Twitter, or mine here, for that matter, are going to change the minds of those fans who are refusing to drop twelve bucks for a Modelo until #GWOut.

But they suggest that, even if we’re patient, even if we’re willing to suspend some of our anger and outrage, even if the investigation gives us a full and final accounting of what Riley did in 2015, we might not find the answers as to whether GW should be in or out as simple and satisfactory as we might like.

Image by Portland Thorns FC: on Facebook
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16 thoughts on “Ein blick von das Tor

  1. I think you’ve covered most of my responses to Angerer’s letter. I’ve commented before about how effective abusers can be at silencing their victims through shame and fear. I’d note also that everyone learning of allegations of abuse tends to assume immediately that the people who should have known, did know. This is probably not often, certainly not always true.

    You and I and most fans learned of both Farrelly’s and Shim’s accusations at the same time. Because of this it’s difficult to remember that in 2015 the Thorns FO were apparently only aware of Shim’s. I absolutely don’t want to minimize Riley’s crimes against Shim, but Farrelly’s allegations are worse. What’s more, a single accusation without evidence can be hard to interpret, while two make a pattern that more clearly demands action.

    In short, hard as it is to be patient, I agree that waiting for the results of a thorough investigation is the only way to move forward and begin to repair the damage done. Simple and satisfactory answers tend to be fiction, but complicated and incomplete answers can still be useful, better than guesses and assumptions. The team and the league will have some struggles in the interim, but there’s no other way.

    I am absolutely in awe of the courage of Farrelly and Shim, and the other survivors who are coming forward to challenge the power of abusers. I also want to recognize Angerer’s courage in speaking her own truth. I’m saddened but not surprised at the nastiness of many replies to her message.

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    1. To address your last point first, I was first concerned when the fan organization(s) fired out a laundry list of demands and insisted on boycotting merch and concessions until those demands were met well in advance of (and those demands being far more sweeping and ambitious than) the players’ recommendations.

      There’s a pretty hardcore group of supporters that has had a hate-on for Wilkinson since well back to the end of the USL days. I’ll be the first to say that Wilkinson brought that on himself by being a monstrous dick to the fans…but that simmering dislike has never really gone away. The Riley scandal has simply given new life to the old hatreds. Angerer lines up with Wilkinson, Angerer gets the hate.

      To me it’s not the ugly temper of the fans’ response to Angerer’s message that’s so irking, but the hypocrisy of bellowing “Believe the Players!” when it helps bash the FO and GW but slagging off on a player when that player refuses to go along with the #GWOut narrative.

      Obviously there’s a question of how much of what Angerer is saying is cold fact. All of it? Some of it? Is there some self-interest in her standing by the FO that might color her statement? She’s PART of the FO, so it’s hard to see how there’s no connection at all.

      But it seems bizarre, and unlikely, that Angerer would straight up lie about these issues. If she HAD known something and kept silent, or if she had any sort of doubts about Wilkinson’s culpability…why speak up now and lie about it? She’s remained silent all summer…why speak up now and speak anything but the truth when remaining silent would serve her better?

      Again…this whole business is very likely to turn out uglier and messier than any of us either expects or fears. I hope not…but given how messy real life is…

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  2. I believe Mana Shim when she says Gavin told her to keep her private life private. I also believe Nadine Angerer when she praises Gavin for being fully supportive of her personal life. Both things can be true. My sense of Gavin is that he is a 100% company guy and that anything that may detract from the product on the field (personal life, political views, etc.) should be kept to one’s self. In other words, “shut up and dribble.” I don’t believe he is homophobic, but I can see how Mana could construe his comments as such. However, he certainly did himself no favors by at first dening Mana’s accusation.

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    1. My problem now is that I read Angerer’s message as backing Wilkinson’s denial.

      I can’t believe Shim would either lie or exaggerate, though, so at this point we have two competing and conflicting narratives and I don’t know who to believe.

      My inclination (based on Wilkinson’s tin ear on fan/player issues in the past) is to suspect that he DID tell Shim to stow it, but without anything more than conflicting accusations I’m just going to STFU and wait to see what the investigation finds or doesn’t. That’s not very satisfying. But that seems to be where the information we have now points.

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      1. Human memory and human communication are both notoriously imprecise and unreliable. I have no trouble believing that what Shim understood Wilkinson to say was different from what he intended to say. It happens all the time, and if trust is lost there may be no way back.

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        1. It’s possible that Wilkinson both dunked on Shim and supported Angerer. The latter was the best goalkeeper in the world, the biggest diamond in the Thorn’s tiara, and an entirely self-confident person in a position of power. Shim was pretty much the polar opposite. Would it surprise anyone to learn that Gavin spits down and sucks up?

          The timing and tone of Angerer’s post seem off to me. Every time I have heard Nadine speak, she was very direct to the point of tactlessness. This missive has none of that tone. And, as has been pointed out elsewhere – why is this being posted now? Not two weeks ago, and not two months from now? Or never? It raises suspicions (in our house anyway) that the FO is not getting a GM for the Thorns, that GW is going to stick, and that they are laying groundwork for his rehabilitation. If that is the case, this is a 100% fail and I am embarrassed for Nadine.

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          1. I think it’s worth noting that the position of the two players in 2015 was different…but that season alone was an odd one for the two reltive to one another.

            Angerer had just had a terrible 2015, to the point where she was effectively benched for Betos by late summer and had to retire at the end of the season.

            Shim, OTOH, actually had a decent year (4G/4A 18G/13S) after having had a poor 2014 (0G/2A 19G/7S) and was seen as a kind of promising comeback player; the club worked a loan to the Nadeshiko League for the offseason.

            I do agree that Wilkinson is likely to have seen Angerer as a “bigger” piece of the club than Shim, though, and, yes, he’s just the sort of kiss-up-kick-down kind of person.

            But it seems odd that he’d have treated them so differently THAT SEASON, when Angerer was on the way down and eventually out and Shim (as it looked then) was on the way back up.

            I dunno. This worries me for the same reason it does you; it looks like the first shot in an attempt to rehab GW as the once and future GM.

            My fear is that this is Angerer being co-opted by management. I don’t want to think that she’d be willing to sell her soul for a three-year contract…but, as I noted in the post, if so it wouldn’t be the first time that a worker has crossed the shop floor when he or she got the foreman’s job.

            It’s too easy for me to think of GW as The Bad Guy, so I have to resist temptation to just assume that anything bad I hear about him is true. But…that doesn’t mean that it ISN’T true, either.

            At this point I think the 2015 picture is more unclear than ever…

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  3. Who else is left from 2014 and 2015, around the team and the locker room on a regular basis?

    Emily Menges, current NWSLPA treasurer

    Christine Sinclair, original Thorn, team captain, and greatest player in club history

    They are focusing on the season, supporting the players and the players’ association, and letting the process run its course.

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    1. Honestly? We have no idea what either of these two players is doing other then, obviously, what they need to do for their club (and in Sinc’s place, national) team.

      I assume that Menges is also deeply involved in the CBA – whatever the hell is going on with that – and PA business, which has to be a huge time-suck given the current situation.

      Are they letting the process run it’s course by design? By inattention (i.e. they have other more pressing business to attend to?) Are they deeply enmeshed in the process, or just “it’ll be what it’ll be”, or…well, we don’t know.

      One interesting bit of trivia, tho.

      Menges was a “Riley player”; she played a year with Long Island when he was the coach there, and she was his project here, one of his two picks in the ’14 draft (Liz Sullivan, the other, made a single appearance in May of that season – a single minute in the Seattle loss 5/10/14 – and was released near the end of that month). I would be intrigued to hear her take on this business as one of the most experienced of the Riley players, but AFAIK she’s never spoken about her time and connection with Riley, either in Long Island or here.

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      1. Not sure exactly what you mean by starting out with “Honestly?” My sense is that you think I was being contentious. Am I right? Or, are you just saying that honestly, none of us can speculate here.

        What I meant is that neither of them has said a lot publicly. They have said some things, or at least Sinclair did, a few weeks ago, but not a lot. Menges is presumably still working within the NWSLPA leadership structure, and the NWSLPA has said a lot in terms of pursuing processes, questions, and investigations without making specific allegations.

        I think you and I agree that we really don’t know what Menges and Sinclair are doing right now, besides the obvious – to which I meant to give voice, in order to say we can’t draw any deeper conclusions from the obvious.

        Likewise, we cannot infer or impute anything more as to what they did or did not see/hear/know/suspect during the Riley era, or anything else currently.

        But, stated simply as a fact (or at least what I believe to be fact), Menges is still part of the NWSLPA executive committee, and she was here in 2014 and 2015.

        Again as fact, Sinclair, the last remaining original Thorn, has been and remains team captain, and she too was here in 2014 and 2015.

        The only debatable part of what I said is that Sinclair is the greatest player in club history. But I’d love to see someone try to make a case that she’s not and that someone else is!

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        1. “Honestly” in “if we are being brutally frank about what we actually know as opposed to guessing”…so not being contentious so much as “we’re all just spitballing about a lot of this”.

          That’s what makes these data points like the Angerer message so frustrating. Is this Angerer just giving her viewpoint? Is this Angerer shilling for the FO, and propping her GM? Is this part of a larger, orchestrated campaign?

          Arrrrgh! We Just. Don’t. Know!!!!!

          So frustrating to have to just be patient and sit quietly while this plays out.

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  4. Here’s news…

    https://equalizersoccer.com/2021/10/29/nwslpa-announces-committee-for-investigation-says-all-demands-have-been-met/

    “Among the big items is a collaborative, league-wide investigation into any potentially inappropriate conduct from anyone within the NWSL. The PA announced that the league has agreed to ‘a transparent investigation overseen by a five-person committee’. Two of those five people will be representatives from the NWSLPA, joined by one person from the league, one club representative, and ‘one jointly selected neutral party’.”

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    1. Saw that, and that’s good!

      Now…what I want to hear/see is a presser from the Peregrine organization announcing that they have moved to make the accommodations the Thorns players asked for; a move to increase diversity, and “seats-at-the-table” meaning, I’m guessing, player reps for personnel and other player issues such as contracts and the CBA.

      This whole thing has to be league- and club-wide if it’s going to succeed. No more Hansons or Baldwins.

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      1. Housecleaning continues at Washington Spirit. Larry Best is out too.

        It’s really hard to say what Nadine is saying because she’s not telling us what to make of it.

        Maybe she’s saying nothing more than “this is my experience of this guy.” Not a letter of recommendation, or welcome back to the club, or an exoneration. Maybe a “this is the person I encountered; people and situations are complex and not always consistent.”

        Just more of an overt human experience of processing complexity, and taking opportunity to speak where there was an opportunity (or even an expectation by others?) rather than remain silent.

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        1. To me, there are two big questions

          1. What parameters are going to be set up to protect the women go forward?

          2. Is redemption possible for those who handled this situation poorly, but seem open to learning and rectifying the situation?

          My biggest learnings in life were when I handled tough situations without a handbook and made errors that I regret. I acknowledge I am fallible and want to be better. I’m more aware of things because of errors in judgment I made, but I’ve also acted on correcting those errors. I think we are all flawed and capable of crappy things. Our capacity to learn and grow is what makes us compassionate and empathetic.

          I believe every human being I have ever interacted with has something in their past that could get them cancelled.

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  5. I have yet to meet anyone who isn’t disgusted by Riley’s action. The question is how you choose to respond to it. I’m not going to vilify Nadine for saying her experience was different than Shim’s. It doesn’t diminish what Shim went through. She even took it a step further that suggested as a star, she had the mechanism to better protect these lesser known players, which is a point that is lost in all of this.

    I do acknowledge that human communication can be interpreted differently. I’m more interested in seeing the report that was provided to the league to see who is to blame. If it incorporates sexual harassment in it, then the NWSL has some explaining to do. If it doesn’t, then Gavin and Merrit do.

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