So the pattern continues again. A sex offender commits an offense and the boss defends him then comes out and resigns together with the usual apology. In a week were one of the most prominent sex offenders of this century, R Kelly was put away, US soccer erupted in outrage as coach of the North Carolina Courage soccer team Paul Riley IS ACCUSED OF MISCONDUCT in which he used his powerful position to engage in sexual misconduct with players as well as harassment. This has led to chief of the NWSL Lisa Baird tendering her resignation after having said she doesn’t believe Paul did those things. Unlike what happened in Iceland the rest of the board of the NWSL is remaining put which surprises me a lot. Does it mean the others were innocent bystanders? Anyway Such incidences may not be new to me or any of you guys but one thing never ceases to amaze me. Why do the victims take so long to come forward with their stories? In Riley’s case it is said the assaults started more than 10 years ago in 2010.
Two words could be the answer to this, Stockholm Syndrome. Just like what happened in Stockholm, Sweden when four hostages of a botched bank robbery in 1973 developed bonds with their captors , so did the soccer players with coach Riley over time.They may feel a sense of responsibility for the actions of the transgressor. “Maybe I acted too friendly with him or I dressed too provocatively”, or “Maybe I should not let him be alone with me” are some of the things that might be going through their minds. Once more they may be afraid of how the assault may affect family members , husbands, boyfriends and so forth.
One thing that offenders use as cover is the blurry line between consensual intercourse and rape. Let’s say for arguments sake a player is invited to dinner at a coach’s house and accepts. The player is then drugged and ends up being sexually assaulted. It is then hard for the player to come out and accuse the coach as she would have accepted an invite to the coach’s home which implies consent. What is considered “sexual harassment” also varies from person to person, country to country.
For instance, to some women being patted on the bum(I am not saying it is right to do so) is the ultimate sign of being beautiful or a sign of having done a good thing like score a goal, to some it is the epitome of disrespectful. But Riley has no excuse here, he is from England were it is definitely not ON to touch a woman without their consent. Now does it mean that men should not coach women’s soccer teams? Absolutely not. Look, men can offer tons of experience of the game of soccer so should always be considered for coaching jobs. What now needs to be done is to rewrite the rules of engagement between players and coaches. For one a no touching , dating or sexual relationships policy should come in effect. Lastly, an open door, victim friendly environment at soccer club should be considered, fully equipped with counsellors and former Special Victims police officers and all.