Thorns GM placed on leave after Sinclair, teammates demand investigation

Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan, right, defends against Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair during the first half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

As the NWSL continues to deal with the fallout from the sexual harassment scandal last week, the Portland Thorns have placed general manager Gavin Wilkinson on administrative leave.

Canadian Olympic gold medallist Christine Sinclair and her Thorns teammates released a statement earlier on Wednesday calling for sweeping change within the club, including Wilkinson being placed on leave.

The Thorns players also called for an increase in diversity among the club's board and that players receive seats at the table to provide better transparency and change.

During Wednesday night's NWSL action, players stopped on the field in the sixth minute and linked arms in a circle to demonstrate solidarity with two former players who came forward with allegations of harassment, including sexual coercion, against North Carolina Courage coach Raul Riley.

The NWSL has since launched an independent investigation into its handling of abuse claims.

The alleged harassment of one of the players, Sinead Farrelly started in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the now-defunct Women's Professional Soccer league.

She told The Athletic that harassment continued when she was with the Thorns. Mana Shim, another former Thorns player, also allegedly experienced harassment. The Thorns said that the team investigated claims about Riley and passed those on to the league when he was dismissed.

Riley was head coach of Portland in 2014 and 2015. After he was let go by the Thorns, he became head coach of the Western New York Flash for a season before the team was sold and moved to North Carolina.

-- With files from The Associated Press

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