Monday, February 6, 2023

NWSL announces lifetime bans for four coaches after abuse investigation

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Jan 2023


The NWSL has announced sanctions, including lifetime bans for four coaches, following a joint investigative report into allegations of abuse within the league.

The report, conducted by the league and the players’ union, detailed widespread misconduct by coaches, as well as clubs’ failure to act when presented with allegations from affected players.

Prior to the investigation, allegations had included claims of sexual harassment and coercion and verbal and emotional abuse.

The sanctions, handed down by NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman on Monday, ranged in severity based on the offences of those involved.

The most prominent name to be issued Level One sanctions – constituting permanent exclusion from the NWSL – was two-time Coach of the Year and three-time champion Paul Riley.

Also receiving Level One sanctions were former Sky Blue FC and Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly, former Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames and former Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke.

Former Utah Royals head coach Craig Harrington and former Gotham FC general manager Alyse Lahue were handed Level Two sanctions, resulting in a two-year ban from NWSL employment and training required in order to regain future employment.

Level Three sanctions, requiring training to be eligible for employment, were given to former OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti, former Houston Dash head coaches James Clarkson and Vera Pauw, as well as those previously announced in October for former Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, Pride assistant coach Sam Greene and Pride goalkeeping coach Aline Reis.

The heaviest club fine of $1.5million was issued to the Chicago Red Stars, while the league will actively help franchise owner Arnim Whisler sell the team. The Portland Thorns received a $1m fine and will also be going through a change of ownership.

Racing Louisville were fined $200,000, North Carolina Courage were fined $100,000, OL Reign were fined $50,000 and so were Gotham FC.

In a statement, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said: “The league will continue to prioritise implementing and enhancing the policies, programmes and systems that put the health and safety of our players first.

“Those actions are fundamental to the future of our league, especially as we build a league that strengthens our players’ ability to succeed and prosper on and off the pitch.

“As part of our commitment to accountability and deterrence, the league has determined that further corrective action with respect to certain organisations and individuals identified in the joint investigative report is appropriate and necessary.

“The league and its clubs have taken meaningful steps to begin this structural reform, and understand and accept the continual commitment to enhancing league standards that are necessary to build a safe and positive environment for our players, staff, fans and partners.

“The board of governors hired me with the very specific mandate to effectuate this transformation. These changes will require leadership, accountability, funding and a willingness to embrace this new way of conducting business.

“Our league and clubs are committed to making these changes and will do so with continued input from the NWSL Players Association to make the NWSL a league that sets the standard for the future of sports.”


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