Accusations of sexual misconduct have been leveled at former Utah Royals coach Craig Harrington in the NWSL and NWSLPA report, published on Wednesday and detailing “widespread misconduct” across the league.
Harrington was one of several coaches and team executives cited in the report. He coached the Royals for one season before being put on administrative leave on Sept. 20, 2020. A report in the Salt Lake Tribune at the time cited player complaints of Harrington’s “verbally abusive” behavior as reason for him being placed on leave. He was officially let go on Nov. 9, 2020.
Many of the complaints against Harrington in the report start with the excessive use of alcohol. Harrington, the report says, often got drunk with players, and would sometimes even force them to go to bars with him.
There was one incident in which Harrington, who had already been drinking, came to the hotel room of two players in an attempt to get them to go out to bars with him. He attempted to enter their room, and the players were forced to “shove him out,” the report says.
Interviewed for the NWSL and NWSLPA report, Harrington told investigators that the incident happened differently. He said a player asked him to help get another player to their room because she was intoxicated.
Investigators asked if Harrington could provide proof of the interaction, such as phone records or text messages, but he declined, stating that “the player may have contacted him via WhatsApp or may have just flagged [him] down in the hotel lobby.” He also said he never entered a player’s room.
Two players recalled another instance at a bar in which an intoxicated Harrington made sexual advances toward them and said, “I need to have sex with someone tonight who’s not my wife.”
He also made comments on more than one occasion about players’ looks and bodies, the report says. The former coach denied such allegations, stating that he “never made comments about players’ physical attractiveness and never sexualized players.” The NWSL and NWSLPA joint investigative team, however, “did not find his denials to be credible when viewed against the accounts of multiple other witnesses,” according to the report.
Prior to taking the job in Utah, Harrington was an assistant coach with the Red Stars from 2018-19. During his tenure with the Chicago club, one player recalled Harrington going to a strip club with players following a season-ending loss.
In response to the accusation, Harrington said he and other coaches went to the strip club thinking it was a “regular bar,” and once they realized it was a strip club, they finished their drinks and “got out of there.”
After his exit from the Royals, Harrington went on to coach Club América, a Mexico-based team, for two seasons. He was fired following the club’s elimination in the quarterfinals in May 2022.