by Paul Kennedy
At Thursday's press conference ahead of the USA's friendly match against England, U.S. star Megan Rapinoe said Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler aren't fit to own their teams.
In the fallout from the Yates Report, which detailed abuse by former Thorns coach Paul Riley and former Red Stars coach Rory Dames and the failure of their clubs to respond appropriately over many years, Paulson stepped down from operational control of the Thorns and the Red Stars board removed Whisler from his position of chairman.
Paulson also fired Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub, the presidents of soccer and business, at the two soccer clubs he owns, the Thorns and Timbers.
“Those people are in positions that have responsibilities and they didn’t fulfill those responsibilities," said Rapinoe on Thursday. "They didn’t protect the players at all. I feel like it’s impossible to overstate that every single year, someone said something about multiple coaches in the league and about multiple different environments. So if year after year after year, you cannot perform your duties -- I know I wouldn’t be in my position if I couldn’t perform my duties year after year.”
On the situations in Portland and Chicago, she added: “Without accountability and without people specifically who did the wrong thing being gone, that just says to us that nobody’s really hearing us. So obviously, the firings in Portland. We’ll see what happens with the management but I don’t think that Merritt Paulson is fit to be the owner of that team. I don’t think Arnim is fit to be the owner of Chicago. And we need to see those people gone.”
Rapinoe played for the Chicago Red Stars in WPS in 2009 and 2010. Dames became the Red Stars head coach in 2011 when they moved to the WPSL. She played for Riley at the WPS's Philadelphia Independence in 2011. She has played for the Reign in Seattle and Tacoma since the start of the NWSL in 2013.
"Rory has been an a**hole for the entire time that I’ve known him — from the first second that I heard him on the sideline, the first season that ever played,” said Rapinoe. “Paul’s the same. I didn’t know Christy Holly personally, but everything I heard about him was horrible.”
Holly, the former Sky Blue FC and Racing Louisville coach, was the third coach singled out in the Yates Report. He was accused of sexual misconduct with a Louisville player that led to his termination for cause in 2021.
Riley denied the allegations of the 2021 report in The Athletic that triggered the Yates investigation. Dames has denied "engaging in any misconduct as a coach, sexual or otherwise."