NWSL commissioner resigns as league calls off weekend matches after accusations of sexual misconduct by fired coach

    Paul Riley is pictured on August 15, 2021, in Cary, North Carolina.

    (CNN)The commissioner of the National Women's Soccer League has resigned and the league has called off all matches scheduled for this weekend following a report by The Athletic detailing allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct against Paul Riley, who coached three NWSL franchises over eight seasons.

    Riley was fired by the North Carolina Courage on Thursday after an investigative report by The Athletic that cites players on the record alleging that for years, Riley used his influence and power to sexually harass players and in one incident, coerce a player into having sex with him.
    Riley denied the accusations in the report. CNN has not been able to reach Riley for comment.
       Lisa Baird speaks  during the Wilf Family Welcome Event at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on August 4, 2021.
      The league released one sentence about Commissioner Lisa Baird, saying she resigned and the league accepted.
        Earlier, the NWSL said the league's decision not to play this weekend's matches was reached in collaboration with the players union and was based on "the gravity of the events of the last week."
        A statement from the players' union said it was a difficult decision to ask for the matches to be called off. The union recognized that fans made travel plans and spent money to go to the matches. It also recognized that playing is what gives the players joy.
        "We refuse to let that joy be taken from us. We also recognize, however, that mental health struggles are real," the statement said. The priority this weekend will be for players to take care of themselves, the statement said.
          Baird had apologized for the fallout: "This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played.
          "I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect. Business as usual isn't our concern right now.
          "Our entire league has a great deal of healing to do, and our players deserve so much better. We have made this decision in collaboration with our players' association and this pause will be the first step as we collectively work to transform the culture of this league, something that is long overdue."
          Two-time World Cup champion Christie Pearce Rampone, who was due to be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Saturday, has chosen to defer her induction until 2022.
          She said she came to the decision "after digesting everything that has transpired over the last several days" and wants to be inducted next year when "we can all properly celebrate women's soccer."

          Former player says of Riley: 'I felt claimed'

          The NWSL, which comprises 10 teams, had five matches scheduled on Friday and Saturday. The next scheduled matches are Wednesday, where there are t