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Anthem singer at Portland Timbers game speaks out after wearing “You Knew” shirt

Madison Shanley has a relationship with the Portland Timbers that spans nearly 15 years and her father has a friendship with the club’s president.

But that didn’t stop the 27-year old from speaking out Sunday about the front office’s handling of various off-field incidents and in support of survivors of domestic abuse.

Shanley performed the National Anthem before the Timbers’ match against the LA Galaxy wearing a red shirt with the phrase “You Knew” written in bright, white letters across the front, echoing a recurring message from Timbers and Thorns fans designed to highlight perceived failures of the front office in the Paul Riley and Andy Polo scandals.

But there’s more to the story and she shared it Monday with The Oregonian / OregonLive.

“I am a domestic violence survivor, and I am also a sexual assault survivor,” Shanley said. “I heard (PTFC) had made an initiative that encourages people to use their voice and give their feedback. But when I used my platform, raised my voice and gave my feedback, they asked me to reconsider wearing the shirt. They were saying there were possible consequences, but I told them I was prepared for the consequences. I was prepared if they were going to pull me from the schedule for the rest of the season. ”

Shanley first heard about the organization’s displeasure with her shirt in a text message from her father, shortly before she took the field to sing the anthem. Mike Golub, the Timbers’ president of business, is a longtime friend of Shanley’s dad and called him to ask that he encourage his daughter to reconsider her fashion statement.

“The thing that was most bothersome to me about their approach was that they reached out to my dad before they talked to me,” Shanley said. “My dad has a friendship with Mike Golub, and Mike decided to reach out to my dad while I was in the locker room before the anthem getting ready to go out and sing. I kept getting texts and calls from my dad with him being worried and saying Mike doesn’t want me to wear the shirt. My dad was the one who said to Mike, ‘she is a grown woman, she has her own mind.’ He urged Mike to talk to me.

“When I heard that my dad had been contacted, I was like, ‘What in the actual patriarchy is this?’ I am a 27-year-old woman. I have a mind of my own and a voice of my own. I understand that my dad has a relationship with Mike, but Mike also has a relationship with me. I felt really disrespected. It was using something against me. My family is the most important thing in my life besides my sobriety, and I want to make them proud in everything I do. ”

Golub told The Oregonian / OregonLive that he didn’t have Shanley’s number and figured her father was with her at the stadium, as is normally the case, so that is why he chose to call him. After the call, Golub went down to speak with Shanley face-to-face.

“Mike was respectful, but very straightforward,” Shanley said. “He asked me if I’d read the full report on Andy Polo, and I said, ‘Yes, I have read the full report.’ I told him I’d heard the full audio recording. He was just wondering if I had all the information I needed to make the decision to take the pitch with a “You Knew” shirt on. I said I was prepared for any consequences, and I asked him if he was going to pull me from singing. He said, ‘Well, I can wear what I want and say what I want, but they wanted to let me know their position.’ ”

Shanley said the exchange made her “uncomfortable” and after Golub left she was shaking and began to cry. She pulled herself together to sing the anthem, she said, but broke down in tears again afterward.

Golub confirmed Shanley’s recollection of the conversation to The Oregonian / OregonLive and added that he offered Shanley a chance to sit down with the front office to air her concerns, an offer which he said still stands. The Timbers said Shanley will still be invited to sing the National Anthem in the future.

“Given the (Polo) investigation report coming out, and her being someone who’s there representing the team, you can understand our preference for her not to wear the shirt,” Golub said. “I told her it was completely up to her whether she wears the shirt, but that we had a preference that she not wear it. She had a definite point of view on things, but I left saying this was her choice and that we aren’t telling her not to wear it. It’s a difficult situation, but there wasn’t pressure. We made it very clear repeatedly that it was her choice. ”

Since 2009, Shanley has been a regular performer of the National Anthem at Timbers and Thorns matches. She’d even been singing it before that when she was younger, back when Providence Park was called PGE Park and the Triple-A Portland Beavers baseball team called it home.

It wasn’t until October that Shanley said she realized her role singing before crowds of sports fans provided a platform, and she made the decision to post a photo of herself on social media wearing the “You Knew” shirt.

Riley, the former coach of the Thorns, was accused of sexual coercion by multiple players. Polo, the former Timbers player whose contract was terminated in February, was accused of domestic violence by his estranged wife and cited but never charged for misdemeanor harassment.

Major League Soccer commissioned an independent investigation into the Timbers’ handling of Polo, which found the club failed to properly report the incident but did not engage in a cover-up or attempt to influence the legal decisions of Génessis Alarcón. The day after the report was released, PTFC announced myriad initiatives it would undertake to address accountability, equity and engagement.

Some, Shanley included, don’t think it’s enough.

“The organization hasn’t said anything besides denying certain claims and putting out these reports and initiatives,” Shanley said. “There’s been no real accountability. As a survivor and someone who’s been through it, I cannot imagine the experience as a woman of filing and escalating a report and not having any consequences at the end of it.

“If the energy they are applying to more or less silence people or deny things that are happening, if they were to reallocate that energy to holding people accountable for their actions, that would be the much better option.”

– Ryan Clarke, rclarke@oregonian.com

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