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NWSL expels Amanda Cromwell, Pride coaches for retaliatory conduct

Amanda Cromwell was hired as Orlando Pride head coach in December 2021. (Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The NWSL has terminated the contracts of Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell and first assistant coach Sam Greene based on the findings of the NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s joint investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, the league announced Monday.

The investigative team substantiated claims that Cromwell and Greene engaged in retaliatory behavior against Pride players who they believed had backed misconduct allegations against them. The coaches had been placed on temporary administrative leave in June at the recommendation of the joint investigation.

“Specifically, Cromwell and Greene were found to have engaged in conduct that discouraged reporting and fostered a general fear of retaliation, and to have taken negative actions against certain players, including by seeking to waive or trade them,” the NWSL said in a statement.

As a result of the discipline, Cromwell and Greene are not permitted to work in the NWSL in any capacity unless they are approved for reinstatement by the Commissioner. To do that, they must participate in mandatory training regarding retaliation, discrimination, harassment and bullying as well as in mandatory executive coaching, as determined by the Commissioner. They must also acknowledge wrongdoing and demonstrate a sincere commitment to correcting their behavior.

Pride goalkeeper coach Aline Reis has also been placed on unpaid administrative leave after the investigative team found that Reis did not cooperate fully with the investigation,”including by pressuring players to share favorable information with investigators,” the statement read. Reis must complete the mandatory training, acknowledge wrongdoing and demonstrate a commitment to behavioral reform before she can return to work.

Cromwell and Greene first came under investigation in March 2022 based on allegations of verbal abuse and improper favoritism toward players. Counsel to the Pride conducted the probe with the consent of the NWSL and NWSLPA joint investigative team and founds some of the allegations to be substantiated.

In May, the NWSL and NWSLPA received complaints that Cromwell and Greene were retaliating against players who they believed had participated in and supported the March investigation.

Cromwell, Greene, Reis and Pride assistant coach Michelle Akers reported in June that they were subject to various forms of misconduct. After a third-party investigation into the coaches’ complaints, their claims were found to be unsubstantiated.

Cromwell called the investigation “biased and incomplete” and said she would explore legal options in a statement of her own Monday night.

“As we continue to build a league as elite as the players on the pitch, it is critically important that we foster a culture where individuals can safely come forward with concerns without fear of reprisal,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said. “These retaliation concerns were identified during the NWSL/NWSLPA Joint Investigation and interim measures were put in place due to the ongoing nature of the misconduct.”

The decisions come a week after the release of U.S. Soccer’s findings from a year-long investigation into systemic abuse in the NWSL, as conducted by former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates. The report outlined a pattern of verbal abuse, emotional abuse and sexual misconduct by coaches and a failure by team and league executives to respond appropriately to incidents of misconduct.

The NWSL and NWSLPA’s joint investigation, which spans cases of misconduct since the league’s inception in 2013, is expected to completed by the end of the year.