The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) on Monday suspended four soccer coaches permanently and announced sanctions against officials and clubs. Along with disciplinary actions, the American Professional League responds to inquiries related to sexual abuse, abuse of power, and psychological manipulation.
The NWSL and its players’ union announced the findings of an investigation they commissioned in December that found “widespread misconduct” against female players in the early days of the league nearly a decade ago. These are not isolated cases.
Former coaches Paul Riley (North Carolina), Rory Dames (Chicago Red Stars) and Richie Burke (Washington Spirit) have now received lifetime coaching bans from the NWSL, as has coach Christy Holley (Racing Louisville). In addition, former coach Craig Harrington (Utah Royals) and former Gotham FC (New Jersey) manager Alise LaHue have been banned from working in the NWSL for two years.
Sexual assault allegations against two former players continued to be investigated Paul Riley had raised Riley, who has denied all allegations, was one of five NWSL coaches who were fired or resigned in 2021 because of the allegations.
Several teams were fined Monday: the Chicago Red Stars will be fined $1.5 million, the Portland Thorns will be fined $1 million, the Racing Louisville will be fined $200,000 and the North Carolina Courage will be fined $100,000. Seattle Reign FC and Gotham, home to superstar Megan Rapinoe, have both been fined $50,000.
“The league will continue to prioritize implementing and improving policies, programs and systems that prioritize the health and safety of our players,” said NWSL Executive Director Jessica Berman. His predecessor, Lisa Bird, resigned when the players’ allegations became public and drew attention. (dpa)