Key figure in NWSL abuse investigation, Mana Shim, named chair of US Soccer's safety taskforce

A woman who helped reveal a culture of systemic abuse in the NWSL and indifference to it by both the league and U.S. Soccer will chair a task force dedicated to making the sport safer.

Mana Shim and U.S. Soccer announced Monday that Shim will lead the Participant Safety Taskforce, which will coordinate implementation of recommendations by former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates’ yearlong investigation found NWSL players had alerted the league and U.S. Soccer to abuse by their coaches that included verbal tirades, retaliation, sexual harassment and sexual coercion. There often was no punishment and, in the instances where there were repercussions, coaches were allowed to move to other teams without anyone at the league or federation raising an alarm.

Yates also said that while her investigation was focused on the NWSL, she believed the abusive culture extended to all levels of the sport.

“For far too long, leaders across the soccer ecosystem – including at U.S. Soccer – have not taken responsibility for protecting players. But I believe in the capacity for change,” Shim said in a statement.

“As leader of the Taskforce, I am committed to ensuring not only that Yates’ recommendations are implemented, but that we push beyond them. We need to find the root causes of our sport’s systemic failures and take action at every level – from the youth game to the professional game.”

Former Portland Thorns midfielder Mana Shim
Former Portland Thorns midfielder Mana Shim

Shim went to law school after playing in the NWSL from 2013 to 2019. She graduated earlier this year, and was named one of the top 10 law students nationally by National Jurist magazine.

Shim was playing for the Portland Thorns in 2015 when she reported coach Paul Riley’s persistent and unwanted advances, as well as his retaliation when she asked him to stop, to both the team and league. Riley was fired by the Thorns, but the team did not make the reason public and the league did not ban him. Riley went on to two other teams.

On Sept. 30, 2021, Shim and another former Thorns player, Sinead Farrelly, went public about Riley’s abuse in a story by The Athletic. That led U.S. Soccer to commission the Yates investigation. A separate joint investigation by the NWSL and its Players Association is ongoing.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Abuse survivor Mana Shim to chair taskforce to make soccer safer