NWSL Players Association announces settlement with NWSL on demand list

The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSLPA) has announced that the NWSL has agreed to respond to all demands made by the union following cases of verbal abuse and sexual coercion of female players.

The announcement follows an Oct. 20 announcement by NWSL acting CEO Marla Messing, in which she said the league had agreed to the union’s demands “in principle.”

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“Today is a major step in protecting player safety, but it’s only the beginning,” the NWSLPA said on its Twitter account.

NWSLPA President Tori Huster added, “Each of these requests are viewed by the players as one step closer to the goal of resuming our league.”

The NWSLPA first released the demands on Oct. 6, which included a requirement that league staff voluntarily participate in the union’s sexual misconduct investigation and that there be full league transparency in this regard. regarding other ongoing investigations. The NWSLPA also demanded that she be included in the selection process for the next commissioner.

The NWSLPA said the NWSL agreed to a “transparent investigation” overseen by a five-person committee, including two NWSLPA representatives, one from the NWSL, a club representative and a jointly selected neutral party.

“The scope of the investigation will broadly review all instances of inappropriate conduct and seek to identify systemic failures to protect the health and safety of players,” the NWSL said.

Later Friday, the NWSL released a statement saying, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement to work with the Players Association on the investigation announced by the NWSL on October 3. As a league, we are committed to make the systemic and cultural changes necessary to create a safe environment for our players and staff, and today’s agreement to conduct a joint investigation is an important next step in that process.”

Earlier, the NWSLPA added that negotiations on the league’s first collective bargaining agreement with the union are underway, with the goal of “rectifying the systemic power imbalance that has contributed to the myriad of issues uncovered this season.”

Overall, several NWSL managers have been fired for verbal abuse, including former OL manager Reign Farid Benstiti and former Washington Spirit manager Richie Burke. Former North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley was fired earlier this month for allegedly exercising sexual coercion on players while manager of the Portland Thorns.

When it was revealed that various NWSL stakeholders were aware of the circumstances under which Riley was fired by the Thorns in 2015, NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.

“We are working in good faith to reach agreements that empower and respect players,” NWSL executive director Meghann Burke said.

Andrew B. Reiter