Una verdad incómoda: The Courage of Sinead Farrelly

In a shocking announcement this week, Gotham FC midfielder Sinead Farrelly, the reigning champion of the prestigious National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), revealed that she is retiring at the peak of her career. This decision comes as she was gearing up to defend her title and following her debut at the World Cup with the Republic of Ireland. Neurologists have advised her to stop playing due to a severe post-concussion syndrome stemming from the alleged sexual abuse she endured since 2015 by former Portland Thorns coach, Paul Riley.

Farrelly and her teammate Mana Shim bravely spoke out about the incidents back then, but the American league turned a blind eye. It was an uncomfortable truth. Now, the NWSL has sought to pay tribute to her with a belated farewell message on social media, acknowledging her tremendous courage: “Dedicated. Courteous. Light. Champion,” they posted on Instagram.

The repercussions have been devastating, but her message resonated in American culture and inspired new protective measures for female soccer players against harassment and abuse in a league that sets a global example.

Here in the F League, the cases of ‘Randri’ García at Alhama de Murcia and Carlos Santiso at Rayo Vallecano, with allegations of mistreatment of players on one hand and comments “contrary to the dignity of women” on the other, have brought to light the harsh reality in some locker rooms. The silver lining is that these women dared to speak up, despite facing a skeptical, hostile, and incredulous environment. Just like Jenni Hermoso did after the World Cup with the non-consensual kiss from Rubiales, or as Farrelly and Shim did before. The fear of raising their voices is diminishing. Silence is not an option when walls are being torn down and paths are being paved. Courage always prevails.