Merritt Paulson: Thorns Owner Makes Team Decision Amid NWSL Scandal

Merritt Paulson: Thorns Owner Makes Team Decision Amid NWSL Scandal

Among the findings of an independent investigation into the National Women’s Soccer League released Monday, Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson is one of the league figures who helped enable systemic emotional abuse and sexual misconduct.

According to the report, which was led by former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spalding, Paulson helped cover up accounts of sexual abuse and coercion regarding former Thorns coach Paul Riley, who was fired by the North Carolina Courage in September 2021 when the news became public.

On Tuesday, Paulson announced he will be stepping back from the Thorns organization following the NWSL report.

“Yesterday’s Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league,” Paulson said. “I would imagine that it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. … I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry.

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