Anthem singer for Portland Timbers challenges club on domestic violence charge

Portland Timbers anthem singer quits over handling of abuse allegations

Madison Shanley spent 14 years as a volunteer anthem singer for the Portland Timbers and Thorns. Kayla Plummer

Portland Timbers and Thorns volunteer anthem singer Madison Shanley’s run of 14 years has ended after she opted not to continue in protest over the organization’s handling of multiple allegations of abuse of women by team employees.

Shanley, 27, who wore a shirt with the phrase “You Knew” as she sang the anthem prior to the Timbers-LA Galaxy match, told ESPN that “It comes down to values and integrity. And I know I’m making the right choice when my values and integrity don’t align with what’s being represented in the front office.”

Neither the Timbers/Thorns organization nor Major League Soccer responded to multiple requests for comment following Shanley’s announcement.

Shanley, who said she wore the shirt despite pressure from Timbers president of business Mike Golub prior to her performance, was scheduled to sing the anthem at this weekend’s game between the Portland Thorns and the San Diego Wave.

In an email to the Portland organization, Shanley said that Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, Golub, and GM Gavin Wilkinson “do not reflect nor protect the beautiful people within this community…Instead of taking any legitimate accountability, they are choosing to dedicate their energy to denying claims, excusing behavior, and maintaining the falsehood ‘change takes time.’”

Last September, The Athletic reported that Paul Riley engaged in sexual coercion of two Thorns players back in 2015. The report also detailed that Riley’s contract with the Thorns was not renewed after one of the players Mana Shim, reported what took place to the Thorns front office, although Shim’s report was never made public. Riley went on to coach elsewhere in the NWSL before he was terminated in 2021 by the North Carolina Courage when more accusations became public.

In May of 2021, then-Timbers midfielder Andy Polo was cited by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department “for harassment after grabbing” the wrist of his estranged wife, Génessis Alarcón.

The Timbers were fined $25,000 for not reporting the incident. Polo was ultimately cut loose by Portland, while Alarcon alleged the Timbers tried to get her to drop the charges in exchange for financial compensation. An investigation conducted on behalf of MLS by the law firm Proskauer Rose cleared the Timbers of wrongdoing.

Polo was not charged over the allegations, with the DA citing lack of evidence. The Timbers settled the civil lawsuit with Alarcon two weeks ago.

Shanley said that Golub “leaned heavily” into the findings of the investigation, which the Timbers feel largely absolves them, during her recent meeting with front-office members.

“As a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault I cannot in good faith align myself with their lack of urgency,” she said.

In an email to the Timbers, Shanley said Golub pressured her on April 3 not to wear the “You Knew” shirt.

Two weeks ago, Shanley told ESPN that Golub pressured her father, Terry. The two are friends from a previous business association.

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