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NC Courage coach fired amid allegations of sexual harassment, Twitter users call on co-owner Naomi Osaka to speak out

Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open.
Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open.
Rohit R
ANALYST

Naomi Osaka has invested a lot of her time on projects outside the scope of tennis. Earlier this year, the four-time Grand Slam champion became the co-owner of North Carolina Courage, a team that competes in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States.

The club was recently involved in controversy after allegations of sexual harassment were leveled at head coach Paul Riley by several former players.

Amid institutional failure, former #NWSL players accuse a prominent coach of sexual coercion. An investigation at @TheAthletic, with @KatieJStrang: theathletic.com/2857633/2021/0… https://t.co/A6psqAWAq1

North Carolina Courage's management, on their part, quickly fired him following the allegations and replaced him with assistant Seah Nehas.

"In light of today's reports, the North Carolina Courage have terminated Head Coach Paul Riley, effective immediately, following serious allegations of misconduct," the club said in a statement.
"The Courage support the players who have come forward and we commend them for bravely sharing their stories. The North Carolina Football Club is united together in our commitment to creating a safe, positive, and respectful environment, not only within our club but across the league and our great sport

A number of high-profile football players have since demanded accountability from the NWSL itself. American star Alex Morgan said the league had been informed of Riley's conduct on multiple occasions and had failed to protect its players.

(1/3)The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations. The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse. twitter.com/nwsl/status/14…

Fans on Twitter have also called on Naomi Osaka to speak out on the matter, considering her position as co-owner of the team.

A fan named Beth urged Osaka, as well as other investors in the team, including Jessica Chastain and America Ferrera, to speak on behalf of the players and call for the resignation of the league's commissioner Lisa Baird.

"As investors in the NWSL you have a big voice and and the ability to make change. Please speak out on behalf of these players. Demand the resignation of Lisa Baird who has known about this since 2015," Beth wrote.

Baird has since resigned from her position.

@naomiosaka Any comments on the developments with the NC Courage? As a season ticket holder, I’d appreciate hearing from those with ownership percentages, no matter the size.
@SophiaBush @jes_chastain @ChelseaClinton @naomiosaka @AmericaFerrera As investors in the NWSL you have a big voice and and the ability to make change. Please speak out on behalf of these players. Demand the resignation of Lisa Baird who has known about this since 2015. twitter.com/itsmeglinehan/…
I will withdraw my daughter from the NCFC rec program and advise her teammates' parents to do likewise if this is not addressed. If the @TheNCCourage is not a safe space for women and girls, neither is @NCFC_Youth.@stephenmalik & @naomiosaka, do the right thing. twitter.com/Neclovian/stat…
@itsmeglinehan @TheAthletic @KatieJStrang So…high powered women owners in the #NWSL what say you? How will you step forth and protect the players and force the necessary change ? They need you. @ChelseaClinton @MiaHamm @JulieFoudy @naomiosaka @AbbyWambach @joyfawcett14 @BriScurry and so many more.
Hopefully @naomiosaka is made aware of this and can affect change as a @TheNCCourage owner twitter.com/alexmorgan13/s…

Osaka has previously used her huge platform to support various causes. Last year she brought attention to racial injustice and police brutality in the US through her protests during the US Open. This year, the 23-year old started a huge conversation around mental health.

Considering her status as a global icon, a strong statement from the Japanese would definitely help in bringing about some action.

Naomi Osaka hopes to resume playing tennis soon

Naomi Osaka lost in the third round of the 2021 US Open.
Naomi Osaka lost in the third round of the 2021 US Open.

Following her exit from the 2021 US Open to eventual finalist Leylah Fernandez, Naomi Osaka announced that she would be taking a break from tennis as she didn't enjoy competing anymore.

However, in a recent appearance on the show, "The Shop: Uniterrupted", the 23-year old stated that she'll probably play again soon, as she feels the "itch" to compete.

"For sure I love the sport," Osaka said. "I know I'm gonna play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again. But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I'd just have the joy of being back on the court. Just to, like, you know, that I’m doing it for myself."
Edited by Arvind Sriram
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