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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Women’s soccer bans ex-coaches and fines teams after misconduct report

The National Women’s Soccer League announced it had permanently banned four coaches on Monday.


The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) earlier this week permanently banned four former coaches, suspended other league officials and fined several teams, following a report last month that detailed alleged abuse and misconduct across the league.

Paul Riley, a former North Carolina Courage coach; Rory Dames, a former Chicago Red Stars coach; Richie Burke, a former Washington Spirit coach; and Christy Holly, a former Racing Louisville FC coach, were permanently banned from the league for alleged misconduct ranging from inappropriate comments to, in the case of Holly, groping a player.

The Red Stars were fined $1.5 million, and Portland Thorns FC were fined $1 million for failure to properly act on allegations of misconduct.

Craig Harrington, a former Utah Royals FC coach, and Alyse LaHue, a former general manager of Gotham FC, each received two-year suspensions from the league. Harrington was found to have “made inappropriate sexual and objectifying comments,” and LaHue was found to have sent players inappropriate messages, the NWSL report said.

The league said in a statement Monday that the sweeping disciplinary actions were based on a 128-page report released in December. The report, a joint effort organized by the NWSL and its players’ union, revealed a number of disturbing problems throughout the league, including instances of sexual abuse, unwanted sexual advances, emotional abuse, racist remarks and retaliation against players who complained about how they were treated.

“Players from marginalized backgrounds, or with the least job security, were often targets of misconduct,” the report said. “At the same time, these players faced the greatest barriers to speaking out about or obtaining redress for what they experienced.”

Jessica Berman, the league’s commissioner, said in a statement that the “corrective action” announced Monday was “appropriate and necessary.”

“The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first,” Berman said. “These changes will require leadership, accountability, funding and a willingness to embrace this new way of conducting business.”

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