US & Canada

NFL hires female advisers on domestic violence

An Oakland Raiders fan holds a sign for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after the game against the Houston Texans Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice abuse case has brought him criticism from NFL fans

Three consultants have been hired to help the NFL deal with issues relating to domestic violence and sexual assault, the organisation has said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to teams Monday announcing the appointment of Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith.

Mr Goodell has been under pressure over his handling of an abuse case involving star running back Ray Rice.

Rice has been suspended for punching his former fiancee, now wife.

The consultants would "help lead and shape the NFL's policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault," Mr Goodell wrote in the memo to teams.

The commissioner has come under fire for the way he handled the Ray Rice abuse case.

Rice was initially suspended for two games when the assault was first reported.

But, after a video surfaced showing him punching her in the face, he was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league.

Mr Goodell at first defended his initial lenient punishment, but more than a month later he told owners he "didn't get it right" and first time domestic violence offenders would now have to face a six-game suspension.

All the new advisors have a history of dealing with sexual violence.

Lisa Friel was previously the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney's Office.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Lisa Friel at a documentary screening in 2011

Jane Randel is the co-founder of No more, a campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Rita Smith is the former executive of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Monday's memo also said NFL's vice president of community affairs and philanthropy, Anna Isaacson, would become its vice president of social responsibility.

The National Organization for Women, which is calling for Mr Goodell's resignation, called the appointments of the senior advisers "a step in the right direction, but it's not enough".