Abuse Whistleblower Returns to World Cup Play

Sinead Farrelly makes Ireland's roster after nearly seven years away from soccer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2023 5:00 PM CDT
Sinead Farrelly Returns to World Cup Play
Ireland's Sinead Farrelly, center, greets players after the team's match with the United States in an international friendly soccer match in Austin, Texas, Saturday, April 8, 2023.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Sinead Farrelly, who came forward with misconduct allegations that sparked a reckoning in US soccer, has been named to Ireland's team for the Women's World Cup. Farrelly and fellow player Mana Shim accused former National Women's Soccer League coach Paul Riley of misconduct and sexual coercion in an article published by the Athletic in 2021. The allegations, which he denied, led to investigations by US Soccer and the National Women's Soccer League that concluded mistreatment of players was widespread. Farrelly had retired more than six years ago but returned to the game earlier this year, the AP reports. She started for Ireland in an exhibition match against the US in April and signed with Gotham FC in the NWSL. Shim has also signed with Gotham.

Now Farrelly has been included on Ireland's 23-player World Cup roster. Ireland's first game in the tournament is against Australia in Sydney on July 20. After the exhibition match against the US, she told reporters that telling her story paved the way for playing again. "I wouldn't have been able to do it unless I was able to get that off my chest and get that story out because that healing, and the liberation from that, had to occur before I could ever play again," said Farrelly, who lived in Ireland as a child. She's trying to overcome physical trauma, as well, after suffering a severe concussion in a 2015 auto accident.

The 33-year-old has lost what should have been her top years as a player. "Time and mental scarring appeared to have destroyed a career of unlimited promise," Gavin Cummiskey writes in the Irish Times. "Nobody returns to professional sport after seven years away." After playing a bit, Farrelly said, "I think I can do this." Cummiskey says she still has her touch, writing, "Sinead Farrelly could always play." She concedes she was anxious in her first game and isn't as calm on the inside as she appears to be. "Compared to other stuff I've been through," Farrelly said, "this should be fun." (More women's soccer stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.