Goddamn it, here we are again.
Jeffery Carlisle has a damning piece up at ESPN.com on the question of “who knew” what and when about Paul Riley (spit!):
“When the managerial post for the national team became open in July 2019 and Riley’s name appeared on a shortlist by incoming USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf, the impulse to protect Riley’s professional reputation, as well as the teams involved, kicked in again. Sources tell ESPN that in a phone call between Paulson and Malik, Paulson told the Courage owner that Riley was fired for cause and that it would be good if Riley withdrew from USWNT consideration.”~ Jeff Carlisle, ESPN.com
This is after the Oregonian released a deep dive into the local legal investigation into the Peregrine actions in 2015, that concluded that:
“…the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. Soccer Federation wanted strict limits on the scope of PTFC’s internal investigation, and that the league and federation were seeking to “wash their hands of responsibility” for how allegations against Riley were ultimately handled by the league and federation as Riley was still allowed to coach professional women’s soccer.”~ Ryan Clarke, Oregonlive
Back in 2021 when I wrote about this sad, sickening mess I said:
“It’s….well, unbelievable…that Riley seems to have gotten by with all this for two seasons completely on the down-low. Nobody knew. When he got fired the team thanked him for his service. Like probably 99% of Thorns fans I just assumed Riley got canned for screwing up 2015.
But it sounds like he was pulling this shit for years. And to believe that the FO all the way up to Paulson had literally no clue until the 2015 post-season?
G’wan, pull the other one.
So nobody – NObody – in the FO knew this guy was off the rails until Shim dimed him off in the fall of 2015? Not a peep? Not a clue?
And then, when the “investigation” turned up “violations of our policies”, the club did nothing substantive that prevent turning the guy loose to have dictatorial authority – which is close to what a head coach has – over other women? Because maybe that was a fucking BAD IDEA!!!???“~ me, here
If you believe the Oregonian and ESPN reports, the silence of the Peregrine organization stemmed from:
- Advice from counsel to protect themselves from a Riley lawsuit,
- Pressure from the league and US Soccer to stumm to protect everyone’s ass, and
- Probably, the “old boy” network of guys who had all known each other since the WPS/USL days or before.
It seems to me that if I worked for a soccer team and I knew the manager was mackin’ on my players, forcing them to put up with his skeevy shit, and I could stop that, but some league or federation suit told me to sit down and STFU?
That seems like a hill I’d happily fucking die on.
I mean, what’s that shit about how evil wins when good people do nothing?
But. I’m not some office pogue whose livelihood depends on my rich boss not firing me for making him sound like a real asshole. Maybe I’m not that brave.
I won’t ever know until I’m there, and I don’t ever want to be there.
Now. Here’s the real question: what do we as fans do about that?
Back in 2021 I concluded the piece with this:
“As a fan I want to do something. As a supporter of the game, and the team, and the women’s game, I think I should do something. But…what? How?“
And I added in the comments (regarding boycotting attendance and cancelling season tickets):
“Agree that a boycott simply punishes everyone (including the current players, who don’t deserve that); I don’t see the utility of it.
I guess I’m too old and cynical to believe that chants – or silence – have any real leverage on the FO. To be there to chant or stand silent means that they’ve got your money and your attention. I’m not sure if there IS a way, short of truly angry public demonstration, which is in itself troubling.
But it seems like I, we, need to do SOMEthing to impact the club and the league, to show how angry and betrayed we feel. That’s why I think reaching out to the PA rep(s) is a good start.
Let’s hear from them; what do THEY think would clout the FO and the league on the ear?”
So far the PA and the current Thorns players have been silent about this latest news – which I understand; they’ve got a living to make and matches to play. They need this distraction like a hole in the head.
But short of something from them it seems like we’re in the same place we were a year ago, except it seems clearer that some of the Peregrine management DID know what Riley (spit!) had been up to and said nothing.
You can argue the reasons. But the ESPN piece makes it damnably obvious that Paulson, at least, knew it was a bad idea to let Riley (spit!) loose around women who he could coerce, and that if that got out it’d be bad for Paulson, too.
So here we are again, dammit; faced again with the knowledge that “they knew”.
And, again, with the troubling choices of how to respond to that.
I want to say how much I hate writing this. I desperately want to ignore it. I want to enjoy the game and the current squad and the league, argue about #TheCoachOut only because she plays Christine Sinclair for 90 minutes rather than skeeving on the players.
But this fucking elephant has once again bulled its way into our room, confronting us again with the question of; what do we do about that?
And much as I want to, I cannot simply ignore that.
Update 9/2: Merritt Paulson took to Twitter to slam the Carlisle piece:
I’ve never met the man, but Paulson’s public persona has always struck me as “thin-skinned rich kid”. But this is just…clueless.
You’ve just been revealed as a man with “guilty knowledge” of a serial abuser, who used that knowledge to keep him from possibly being exposed as such…but were perfectly happy to leave him there in Cary with the power to do to the players there what he did to yours here.
And your response is, basically, “You weren’t supposed to SAY that!”?
Needless to say, Twitter has utterly flamed him:
Look; I get that the club’s attorneys are freaking out at the potential litigation Riley (spit!) could throw at the club if Paulson comes out and says “Yeah, we found out he was a skeevy bastard in 2015, but the league and USSF had their thumbs on us and, frankly, we were worried about lawsuits, so we dummied up until Sinead and Mana forced us to admit it…”
But there comes a time when eliding and deflecting makes you look worse, not better.
There comes a time to get on your knees and repent. Confess. Do your penance.
All of that HAS to come before absolution. It’s right there in the missal.
So. C’mon, Paulson. Do the right thing.