The National Women’s Soccer League announced permanent bans for four coaches and discipline for eight more employees Monday after the release of a report detailing widespread abuse throughout the organization.
The following coaches were hit with permanent bans: Paul Riley of the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage, Rory Dames of the Chicago Red Stars, Richie Burke of the Washington Spirit and Christy Holly of Racing Louisville.
Riley allegedly made unwanted sexual advances towards multiple players, and Holly has been accused of inappropriately touching a player during a one-on-one film session.
Dames and Burke were disciplined for engaging in emotional abuse and making racist and sexist remarks, the league says.
The joint investigation between the league and its players union was commissioned in response to a 2021 report from The Athletic that details allegations of prominent coaches, including Riley and Dames, taking part in sexual harassment and other abusive acts.
The NWSL released the findings of its investigation last month. When the report came out, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman acknowledged the league had “systemically failed to protect our players.”
Disturbingly, there were seemingly few places for affected players to turn. Even one of the league’s most prominent female executives, Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue, made unwanted sexual advances towards a player.
She was suspended for two seasons, along with former Utah Royals coach Craig Harrington.
There are at least 48 out active players in the NWSL, which enjoys a large LGBTQ fan base.
The league has a lot of goodwill to make up.