On June 28, 2021, a player reported Benstiti's comments to Predmore, who suspended Benstiti from interacting with players the next day. As a result, several players felt that they needed to apologize for participating in or failing to stop the March Investigation. Players raised multiple concerns about him to club management. Both Gulati and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn received the NWSL player survey results from 2014, which included information about potential misconduct by both Riley and Dames. In addition, while Cromwell and Greene denied knowing who made complaints about them during the March Investigation, the evidence suggests that they formed a belief as to which players made complaints or spoke negatively about them in connection with the March Investigation. ..13 69, that would allow us to travel home." In January 2020, Simon left West Ham and signed with the Dash. 3. Players reported concerns about staff members drinking alcohol excessively with players. They used derogatory and insulting language towards players, displayed insensitivity towards players' mental health, and engaged in retaliation against players who attempted to report or did report concerns. The NWSL announced that Cromwell's and Greene's employment contracts were terminated effective immediately and that they were ineligible for future employment in the NWSL unless approved by the Commissioner. There's no one. 122, The NWSL should consider requiring that the club explain the reasons for any planned player transaction or staff termination during this timeframe, and the NWSL should ask followup questions and investigate further if it suspects retaliation was a motivating factor behind any of the planned player transactions or staff terminations. a) Riley's Misconduct at the Portland Thorns Ownership terminated Ms. LaHues employment on July 9 and stands by that decision.. At the end of the meeting, Simon was informed that the club planned to fire Holly that night. For example, one player explained that because of Riley's past behavior, she feared he would retaliate against her if she ever spoke out against him. The Yates report made note of teams and individuals who did not cooperate, including the Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars, and Racing Louisville FC. The calendar crisis explained. This may encompass disputes between players, or disputes between players and club staff. While the NWSL investigation was ongoing, Dash Head Coach James Clarkson-during a team meeting prior to completion of the investigation-wrote phone numbers for stadium security on a board and asked players to call and apologize for their conduct. The player was traded shortly thereafter. The report found that Riley had (i) violated instructions by Wilkinson not to socialize with players "when alcohol was involved; (ii) engaged in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior and exercised poor judgment by sending inappropriate text messages, not establishing and maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, inviting players to his apartment, serving alcohol to players, dancing with a player and touching her while doing so, inviting a player to his hotel room, having one-on-one dinners (and involving alcohol), having one-on-one game film sessions in his apartment, and failing to notify his supervisor of the July 5 email; and (iii) likely violated his employment contract by doing so. Players reported that playing time and favorable feedback from coaches were critical to their chances of selection for the USWNT; a lack of playing time also impacted sponsorship opportunities, without which many players had to work second jobs in the off-season to supplement their income. Ryans three-year deal with Gotham highlights a shared commitment to making the team a Girma is everywhere she needs to be at exactly the right time. On August 31, 2021, Racing Louisville announced that they had terminated Head Coach Christy Holly's contract for cause. The club provided no other explanation for Holly's abrupt departure in his first season as their head coach. LaHue's inappropriate messages continued even after the player told LaHue that it felt like LaHue was acting like a jealous girlfriend," and asked LaHue to "accept that we are working together and nothing more. The player explained that although she repeatedly pushed back against LaHue's inappropriate Going forward, the NWSL will, in accordance with its policies and procedures, investigate and address any allegations of misconduct that are reported through its established reporting channels. Through counsel, the Thorns emailed Levine a copy of the report with its attachments. b) Non-Contact Physical Behavior Garcia emailed Shim, stating that although Garcia "did not conclude that unlawful harassment had occurred," she concluded that policy violations had taken place. The 2015 Thorns Investigation was poorly handled in key respects. Both at the bar and as they were walking after the bar closed, Riley brought up Shim's and Farrelly's sexual orientations and raised the notion of the two players getting together. Shim needed to use the restroom, and Riley offered the use of his bathroom in his nearby apartment. While it appears Gotham and the NWSL handled the complaint made regarding LaHue in a timely and appropriate manner once it was reported, there must be steps taken to prevent misconduct from occurring in the first place, and ensure that players feel comfortable reporting it if and when it does occur. 2. U.S. Soccer's investigator also did not look into players' concerns that Whisler was not receptive to their complaints and that he had a financial incentive to protect Dames. On today's episode of the Dynamic Leaders Podcast, Colin is joined by Alyse LaHue. It was previously reported, although never officially communicated by the league or club, that LaHue was fired for violation of the league's anti-harassment policy. One player reported that Riley ripped" a player for being too fat during a halftime speech. And we have to do something about it." Clarkson admitted speaking to players about drinking and professionalism, and although he understood that the players may have felt attacked, he denied "attacking" anyone. On the eve of the Washington Post's November 2021 story on Dames's abusive conduct, in the midst of two ongoing investigations by the Joint Investigative Team and U.S. Soccer into misconduct towards players, and despite Dames having already resigned, Whisler entered into a confidential separation agreement with Dames. E. Reports of Misconduct in 2020 and 2021 Sexual misconduct, as used in this Report, is a broad term intended to encompass a range of conduct, including conduct that could be described as sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. On the international stage, the United States has been a powerhouse of women's soccer. Coaches would berate players about their weight in front of their teammates or speak disparagingly about a player's weight to people other than the player. Reflecting on the prevalence of player-staff relationships, one player asked, "Has the policy changed? Shim reported that at his apartment, Riley offered her wine and placed his hand on her leg. You moron.' 7. The NWSL should also develop standards for evaluating an applicant's fitness for the position, based on the results of background checks, that are consistent with applicable legal restrictions, including applicable state laws. For example, the interviews of Shim and Farrelly were conducted at the Thorns's stadium-rather than a neutral locationwhere Shim and Farrelly may have been seen by club personnel or other players. Each of these issues could potentially require their own mini-review to sort out the conflicting versions of events. The conclusion mentioned none of these concerns. In certain instances, the Joint Investigative Team determined that conduct did not violate the Anti-Harassment Policy or other relevant standards. At OL Reign, CEO (and for much of the club's history, the principal owner) Bill Predmore also managed HR. The day before a game, Holly got into a fight with Pearce Rampone during training. It explicitly requires club employees to elevate all reports of misconduct to the League and clearly states that the League will investigate such reports. Clarkson's comment left the player crying and visibly upset. Baird consulted Levine-who had worked as general counsel for U.S. Soccer in 2015, and for the NWSL since 2017, and who had been kept closely apprised of the 2015 Thorns Investigation when it occurred-on how to respond. He stated that the non-disparagement clause was mutual, in that it required that the club not disparage Holly. One player recalled that Riley hosted a similar trip for Flash players at his Long Island property when he later coached that club. Many of the coaches and individuals who engaged in misconduct and who are discussed in this Report were not appropriately vetted by their clubs., Nor are the leagues current protocols sufficient, the report says: Significant gaps exist in the NWSLs revised background check requirements., READ MORE: Joanna Lohman was fooled by Paul Riley in Philadelphia, where he allegedly coerced her teammates. According to the report, Gotham was one of two clubs in the league that even references the NWSL Anti-Harassment policy in their policies, stating that the club will also adhere to the National Womens Soccer Leagues Anti-Harassment Policy. However, Gothams own anti-harassment policy contained a provision stating that employees who witness offensive behavior in the workplace whether directed at them or another employee are encouraged, though not required, to immediately address it with the employee whose behavior they found offensive. The report states that this provision puts an unfair burden on employees experiencing misconduct by suggesting they should confront the employee engaging in the misconduct. [C]lub staff in positions of power made inappropriate sexual remarks to players, mocked players bodies, pressured players to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, crossed professional boundaries with players, and created volatile and manipulative working conditions, it says. NWSL Player Surveys When one player opened the door, she told Harrington that she and her roommate did not want to go back out for drinks. One former player reported that at the Utah Royals home stadium, fans called players names "based off race and sexual orientation, and players did not want to play in Utah as a result. Simon described her fear that reporting Holly's misconduct could destroy her career after he insinuated to her that he had orchestrated her youth national team call-up; she recalled thinking, He could ruin me." This investigation precipitated the chain of events leading to the later retaliation claims. In the course of 2021 alone, six of the League's then-existing ten clubs fired or accepted the resignations of general managers or head coaches due to misconduct, in some cases misconduct that had persisted for years. In addition to the lack of information at Sky Blue, NWSL personnel did not have a clear understanding of why Holly left Sky Blue. The NWSL should designate a team of NWSL staff to review and analyze player survey results. These aspects of the culture in the NWSL discouraged some players from reporting any concerns. 30, requests from the Joint Investigative Team, making it likely that Paulson understood that there would be limitations on the NWSL's ability to share it. In September 2015, Gulati and Flynn received Shim's email containing allegations against Riley, and during the Thorns's investigation, they received some updates related to Riley and to the investigation from Levine. I don't want her anywhere around the team." In keeping with the Joint Investigative Team's commitment to take a trauma-informed, survivorcentered approach, the Joint Investigative Team did not pressure any current or former player to participate in the investigation. Club anti-harassment policies generally provided reporting channels for employees who believe they were subjected to or witnessed discrimination or harassment; however, none of these policies listed the NWSL HR Office as a reporting channel. Horan spoke publicly about weight-shaming behaviors at PSG on multiple occasions before Benstiti's hiring at OL Reign. NWSL investigation finds 'ongoing misconduct,' details culture of abuse, Red Stars owner Whisler selling stake in club, NWSL year in review: Extreme parity, emerging USWNT stars, new CBA, Yates report, more, NWSL abuse allegations as they happened: Portland Thorns, Washington Spirit timelines, day by day, Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.). Players and staff members alike were often unsure of whether behavior rose to the level of misconduct and, even if they were able to identify behavior as misconduct, where to report it. The player wondered, "Are you going to get a jokey type of day, or is he going to make your life hell that day?" 81 votes, 27 comments. LaHue is supportive of the ongoing reforms that are taking place in the NWSL, it said in part. Olympique Lyonnais LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the OL Groupe ("OL), was set to buy the Reign ahead of the 2020 season, so Predmore updated OL throughout the hiring process. Gotham's handbook stated that the club "will also adhere to National Women's Soccer League's Anti-Harassment Policy." Sky Blue FC's Alyse LaHue And for every role model out there, and every new one made, there's another awakening. In some of these texts, Riley had noted that his messages to Shim "get a bit riskee [sic]," and he complained that he never saw Shim alone, telling her, "[Y]ou avoid me like the plaque [sic]." B. A player told the Joint Investigative Team that the club first attempted to fix the social media post without acknowledging the error or reaching out to the player, and only later issued an apology after Baucom posted about the error on Twitter. Two prior leagues have." In addition, players could report complaints to the NWSL HR Manager, the email address and phone number for which are published in the NWSL Anti-Harassment Policy, posted on the League website, and disseminated to clubs and players. Second, the Joint Investigative Team found no support for the Thorns's independent assertion that the 2015 investigation did not reveal any "unlawful harassment by Riley, an assertion which seemed to have emerged just after the 2015 Thorns Investigation. The report states, Multiple individuals emphasized the critical insight that can be gained by speaking with persons knowledgeable about the candidate.. A few days after Farrelly's complaint to the NWSL, on May 3, 2021, an anonymous complainant emailed the NWSL Office and NWSL HR Office email accounts to report sexual harassment by Riley against Thorns players during Riley's time with the Thorns. The club put out a statement via Twitter stating that LaHue had been let go following an investigation by the league. The close timing between the investigation and the proposed player transactions, efforts by the coaches to discourage reporting and reward apologies for participation in the investigation, exclusion of the players suspected of supporting allegations against the coaches from a team-building activity, and comments the coaches made about these players being "negative" and not "bought in" together indicate that the coaches' actions against the players at issue were motivated, at least in part, by retaliatory reasons. Additionally, despite numerous requests and months of protracted negotiations, the Thorns were slow to answer questions and provide requested documents, and they withheld a number of potentially key documents by claiming they were protected by legal privilege, before ultimately conceding that many key documents were, in fact, not protected by legal privilege. The Joint Investigative Team found, for example, that club staff in positions of power made inappropriate sexual remarks to players, mocked players' bodies, pressured players to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, crossed professional boundaries with players, and created volatile and manipulative working conditions. This player felt "the lines [were] blurred," and she never knew whether the invitations were inappropriate or if he "just genuinely care[d] about [her]." .82 The club ultimately elected to retain Riley as head coach, but this decision was similarly affected by the Thorns's, U.S. Soccer's, and the NWSL's lack of transparency about Riley's misconduct. The non Novo said that shortly before Holly's departure, he communicated concerns about Holly's conduct to Smoot, and that Temares knew that Novo felt Holly should not be coaching elsewhere. She recalled thinking at the time, "they're all adults, and did not consider the "context of how these people met." Accordingly, she cooperated in the first, second, and third investigations into alleged conduct from April 2020 reported in June 2021. Farrelly recalled feeling guilty after the interview that she had told her partner about the kissing incident. U.S. Soccer Chief Legal Officer Lydia Wahlke directed the USSF Dames Investigation, asking the NWSL to stand down even though she believed U.S. Soccer did not have the authority to take action against Dames. The NWSL should revise the 2022 Anti-Harassment Policy to clarify the actions that could be considered retaliatory. But the handling of this situation from all parties, and the future of a club suddenly back in a state of chaos, are worth exploring. On one occasion, Holly took her upstairs and began showing her film and discussing soccer, but then he searched for and showed her pornography. Simon also confided in Racing Louisville's team chaplain Taylor Starr, whom the Joint Investigative Team also interviewed. The lack of clearly established responsibilities allowed individuals within these institutions to disclaim personal responsibility for player protection and to turn a blind eye or shift blame to other individuals and entities, while players were left exposed to further misconduct and unsafe environments. 80, d) Concerns of Retaliation at the Kansas City Current Hammond said that he received only one offer, a lastround pick, which he felt was not adequate compensation given the investment the Courage had made in Kurtz. The Joint Investigative Team found that the underlying culture of the NWSL created fertile ground for misconduct to go unreported. Following these reports and upon learning that Clarkson had been made aware that he was under investigation, the Joint Investigative Team recommended in April 2022 that Clarkson be placed on temporary suspension pending investigation. The League should also require that any non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions allow for the disclosure of information to law enforcement. According to Kurtz, Riley denied her request, telling her the club need[ed]" her. Multiple witnesses reported that Riley criticized Sinead Farrelly's romantic relationships, stated that Farrelly was "too hot to be a lesbian," and said that Farrelly's then-partner was a "predator." The failure to fully share information between stakeholders in women's soccer was also an issue during the USSF Dames Investigation. Multiple witnesses reported romantic relationships between players and staff members, which disrupted team environments, blurred professional boundaries, and in some cases, contributed to the mistreatment of players. However, four of the nine players interviewed had raised concerns that Dames made inappropriate remarks about players' appearances, and two players provided specific examples of those comments. She also did not share the findings or conclusion from the investigation with players. The NDA between Holly and Racing Louisville caused various problems, including for investigators trying to obtain evidence. 16, the League come with the mentality of doing you a favor." In 2017, Daniels had withdrawn from a USWNT camp so as not to wear an LGBT pride jersey, and according to an article in The Athletic, "repeatedly made homophobic statements on her public social media." coach, and Alyse LaHue, the former general manager of Gotham F.C., each received two-year suspensions from the league.