x
Breaking News
More () »

'Protect the Players': Lavender Legion, other fans turnout to show support for Racing Louisville FC players

Players across the NWSL are outraged, including Racing Louisville FC's Nadia Nadim. Friday night, fans stood with her, saying protecting the players is top priority.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A major shakeup amid scandal within the National Women's Soccer League has sparked frustration in Louisville.

On Friday, Racing Louisville FC and National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) games across the country were postponed in light of sexual assault allegations made against Paul Riley, the former head coach of North Carolina Courage. Riley was fired Thursday after The Athletic published a report detailing allegations of misconduct made against him by multiple players over the span of several years.

League Commissioner Lisa Baird ousted by the league's board of directors, and later choosing to resign.

The allegations didn't get lost on fans across the city who came to Lynn Family Stadium anyway to show support for Racing Louisville, saying all players must be protected.

"When something like this happens, it's really traumatic," said Leigh Nieves, president of The Lavender Legion -- a group of Racing supporters.

Prominent players across the U.S. are outraged, including Racing Louisville FC's Nadia Nadim. She called the league 'a joke,' for allowing issues to go unaddressed.

RELATED: NWSL coach Paul Riley fired after sexual harassment, misconduct allegations

"She was so blunt and honest and not holding back," Nieves said.

And on Friday night, fans stood with her and her message.

"This is the top-tier league in the U.S., and you can't even treat them with the dignity and respect to believe them and listen to their concerns," Nieves said.

The Lavender Legion, and dozens of fans, rallied just outside the stadium.

"The anti-harassment policies need to be better enforced, and taken seriously," fan Massey Bowie said.

We even found Gotham FC fans, the team Racing was set to play, standing united with them.

"They just need better leadership, people who defend the players, step up and say these players are underpaid. They're bringing forward charges, and we're not listening to them," said Robbie Rogers, who's a part of Cloud 9 -- a support group for Gotham FC.

Meanwhile, for parents like Chris Baynes, the issues hit hard. His 4-year-old daughter Nova, already showing interest in soccer.

"I want my daughter to play sports one day, and I don't ever want to think that that is happening. It's good people are coming together and saying [this is] not OK," Baynes said.

It's a call for further changes in NWSL leadership.

RELATED: Lisa Baird resigns as NWSL commissioner; US Soccer launches investigation

"When you remodel a kitchen, it's not going to look gorgeous. If you want your kitchen to look better, you have to rip out countertops -- you have to make it look ugly, gotta make it look hideous in order to get a kitchen to look great," Nieves said.

They say it's all to ensure the treatment players deserve.

The NWSL Players' Association announced setting up a 24-hour anonymous reporting system through a third party, where it hopes players' reports will be taken more seriously.

PHOTOS: Fans show support for Racing Louisville FC players

Tickets purchased for Friday's game will be honored on a rescheduled date, which will be announced later. Ticketholders who cannot attend the new date will be able to receive an account credit toward another Racing game this season or in 2022.

RELATED: Racing Louisville FC game scheduled for Friday postponed

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.  

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed