CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Courage and Racing Louisville took the field Wednesday, but winning or losing a soccer game was the last thing on anyone’s mind. After the events of the last seven days, simply holding a game is a win.
Fans filled the stands wearing black T-shirts and holding signs saying things like “No more silence” and wearing shirts with the slogan “believe in women.
Though the Courage certainly pieced together an outstanding performance in winning 3-1, the most significant moment of the night came in the 6th minute. Both teams joined together in solidarity at the center circle for one minute in recognition of the six years it took for Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly, and all those who fought for too long to be heard.
It wasn’t just in North Carolina. Players and coaches in the Gotham FC and Washington Spirit match also linked arms at midfield at the 6-minute mark.
The NC Courage Twitter account sent out a picture of the group with a simple caption: “Together”.
The players and coaches said in advance they would not be speaking to the media after the match and would let the NWSLPA list of demands peak for them.
Here are the demands released by the NWSLPA:
Tonight, we reclaim our place on the field, because we will not let our joy be taken from us. But this is not business as usual.
Teams will stop play in each of tonight’s games at the 6th minute. Players will join together in solidarity at the center circle for one minute in honor of the 6 years it took for Mana, Sinead, and all those who fought for too long to be heard. We call on fans to stand in silence with us. During that time, we ask you to stand in that pain and discomfort with us, as we consider what we have been asked to sit with for too long. We call on you to consider, in that minute, what is demanded of each of us to reclaim our league and our sport.
Following the game, the media are advised that players will refuse to answer any questions that do not relate to abuse and systemic change in NWSL.
Systemic transformation is not something you say. It is something you do. We, as players, demand the following:
1. Every coach, General Manager, representative on the Board of Governors, and owner voluntarily submit to the Players Association’s independent investigation into abusive conduct. They may notify Executive Director Meghann Burke of their agreement with this demand by the close of business on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.
2. The scope of NWSL’s investigation announced on Sunday evening, October 4, 2021, be expanded to include an investigation of each of the twelve NWSL Clubs represented on the Board of Governors to determine whether any abuse, whether presently known or unknown, has occurred at any point in time.
3. The scope of NWSL’s investigation further be expanded to determine whether any League Office staff, NWSL Club, or person in a position of power within NWSL neglected to investigate concerns of abuse raised by any player or employee at any point in time.
4. NWSL adopt an immediate “Step Back Protocol” whereby any person in a position of power (e.g. owner, representative on the Board of Governors, General Manager, or Management Supervisor) at the time that a Club either hired or separated from employment a coach who was, is, or will be under investigation for abuse be suspended from any governance or oversight role within NWSL pending the conclusion of an independent investigation, effectively immediately. For any Club that took swift action to protect players upon the discovery of facts that were not previously known to the Club, the immediate disclosure to the Players Association of the circumstances and the policies or practices implemented to prevent the same from happening again may be grounds to restore that person to their position quickly, with the Players Association’s agreement.
5. NWSL immediately agree to disclose all investigative reports referenced in its statement of October 3, 2021.
6. NWSL immediately agree to disclose to the Players Association any and all findings, conclusions, and reports are obtained pursuant to their statement of October 3, 2021, including but not limited to the reopening of the 2015 Paul Riley investigation.
7. NWSL agrees to cooperate with the Players Association’s own independent investigation by a written email to Executive Director Meghann Burke by the close of business on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.
8. NWSL agrees that representatives of the Players Association have an opportunity to meet with potential Commissioner candidates and have a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the selection of the next Commissioner.
The reckoning has already begun. We will not be silent. We will be relentless in our pursuit of a league that deserves the players in it.