2019 NWSL Championship
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The National Women's Soccer League on Monday issued suspensions to coaches and executives and hefty team fines based on the findings of the league's joint investigative report released in December on systemic abuse in women's soccer in addition to U.S. Soccer's Sally Q. Yates' independent investigation on allegations of past abusive behavior and sexual misconduct

The sanctions spanned from multiple coaching being permanently excluded to work in the league, to hefty fines for governing bodies and clubs. Former Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was accused of sexual misconduct by former players, is among the most notable coach to receive a permanent ban by the league. 

"The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first," NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement.

"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 organizations and individuals identified in the joint investigative report is appropriate and necessary." 

NWSLPA executive director Meghann Burke said "the truth is in the report."

"True accountability is found in the actions that have been taken thus far, and just as importantly, in the choices people in positions of power make moving forward," Burke added in a statement released by the union. "Now, it is time to realize the transformation."

Here's what you need to know about Monday's sanctions:

Coaches permanently banned:

  • Paul Riley 
  • Christy Holly 
  • Rory Dames 
  • Richie Burke  

Coaches and execs banned until 2025:

  • Craig Harrington
  • Alyse LaHue

The league says future employment for Harrington and LaHue once their ban is over will be up to the discretion of the commissioner. They will be required to "acknowledge wrongdoing" and "accept personal responsibility for inappropriate conduct" as well as participate in training and demonstrate a sincere commitment to correcting behavior. 

Coaches on conditional future employment:

  • Farid Benstiti 
  • James Clarkson 
  • Vera Pauw 
  • Amanda Cromwell
  • Sam Greene 
  • Aline Reis 

Somewhat similarly to Harrington and LaHue, these six coaches will be required to "acknowledge wrongdoing" and "accept personal responsibility for inappropriate conduct" as well as participate in training and demonstrate a sincere commitment to correcting behavior. 

Clubs fined:

  • Chicago Red Stars: $1.5 million. 
  • Portland Thorns: $1 million.
  • Racing Louisville: $200,000. 
  • North Carolina Courage: $100,000. 
  • OL Reign: $50,000.  
  • Gotham FC (previously, Sky Blue FC): $50,000.  

In addition to the fines, North Carolina and Louisville will be required to hire a sporting staff -- coaches and general managers -- that is completely distinct from the men's teams. The staff for the women's teams will be required to report directly to ownership.

As for the Thorns and Red Stars, the league says that Merritt Paulson and Arnim Whisler are selling their respective clubs and the NWSL will work collaboratively with them to ensure that the transfer of power is made in an expeditious and appropriate manner. Paulson has pledged $1 million to help establish the NWSL player safety office, which may align with the $1 million fine issued on Monday.

Clubs not fined: 

  • Washington Spirit
  • Kansas City Current

The league noted that Washington avoided any penalties due to change in ownership with Steve Baldwin stepping down and selling the team to Y. Michele Kang in March of 2022. As far as Kansas City goes, the league noted concerns raised by players of being "mistreated or retaliation upon raising those concerns."

Organizational sanctions:

  • NWSL league office: "None of the individuals previously employed by either the NWSL or U.S. Soccer who are named in the joint investigative report are working in any capacity within the NWSL." The league also announced it "incurred millions of dollars of costs" to run the joint investigation. The plan is to continue these efforts under new leadership to ensure that wide-ranging systemic reforms are made to create a safer environment for the players and staff."
  • U.S. Soccer: The league made clear that it has no authority over the participant safety taskforce run by the U.S. Soccer Federation, but has plans to work collaboratively with USSF "in its efforts to improve the girls' and women's soccer ecosystem."