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What NWSL misconduct report revealed about each club

(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NWSL and NWSLPA released the findings from their joint investigation into “widespread misconduct” in the league on Wednesday afternoon.

Just Women’s Sports outlines key new details from the report, organized by club.

Angel City FC

  • One of two expansion teams for the 2022 season, Angel City FC did not figure prominently in the findings. Still, the report did note the club, like many others, had a “too narrow” anti-harassment policy, which only prohibits “unlawful” harassment. In contrast, the league’s anti-harassment policy “prohibits discriminatory and harassing conduct in any form, regardless of whether it rises to the level of a legal violation.”

Chicago Red Stars

  • Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler considered keeping coach Rory Dames on staff in a non-player-facing role despite knowing about the Washington Post’s 2021 report into his misconduct. In the end, Dames was asked to resign after the 2021 season, but Whisler still paid him for the rest of the year.
  • Craig Harrington, who served as an assistant coach for the Red Stars from 2018-19 and as the Utah Royals coach in 2020, “blurred professional boundaries” with players, including drinking with them at bars and making sexual comments to and about players. While he denied the reports, the investigative team did not find his denials to be “credible.”

Gotham FC

  • Alyse LaHue, who served as general manager from 2018 until her dismissal in 2021, made unwanted sexual advances toward a player during her time with the club.
  • During Christy Holly’s tenure as head coach from 2016-17, players reported to management that he was verbally abusive, but the club took no action. The club also “failed to share accurate information about Holly’s conduct both with the league and other clubs.”

Houston Dash

  • Vera Pauw, who stepped down in 2018 after one season in Houston, weight-shamed players and “attempted to exert excessive control over their eating habits.” Players said Pauw “wanted to exert control over ‘every aspect of their lives.’”
  • James Clarkson, who followed Paul as Dash coach and also served as general manager from 2019-22, was described by players as “volatile, verbally abusive, and as not showing appropriate regard for players’ wellbeing.” Players also said they feared retaliation if they spoke out. Clarkson was suspended in April and his contract will not be renewed, the Dash announced Wednesday.

Kansas City Current

  • Huw Williams took the reins as Current coach in 2021, and players expressed concerns about his demeaning communication style, including comments such as, “I’m going to ream your ass.” He moved to a front office role after the 2022 season, but the team parted ways with him last month.
  • Team owners Angie and Chris Long told Williams about the meeting with players, and they also “identified to him specific players who organized the meeting, although he did not know all the players who participated.”

North Carolina Courage

  • Paul Riley, who coached the Courage from 2017-21, engaged in similar misconduct with the club that led to his dismissal from the Thorns. Kaleigh Kurtz said she felt Riley had been grooming her and identified his conduct as abusive.
  • Club leaders were aware when they hired Riley that he had suggested two Thorns players kiss while at his apartment after a night of drinking, and that an investigation into his conduct showed he exhibited “poor judgment.”

Portland Thorns

  • Riley’s sexual misconduct in his two seasons with the Thorns in 2014 and 2015 was documented in detail by the US Soccer investigation released in October, and the NWSL and NWSLPA investigation corroborated that report.

OL Reign

  • Farid Benstiti, who served as OL Reign coach from 2020-21, was hired “despite public evidence that Benstiti had engaged in weight shaming of Lindsey Horan, who had played for him at Paris Saint-Germain.”
  • OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore told Benstiti he could not discuss diet or weight with players, but he criticized players’ weights and diets and said he would monitor their food and snacks. After he gave a speech in which he criticized players’ diets, the club took action and removed him as coach.

Orlando Pride

  • Amanda Cromwell, who served as Pride coach from 2021-22, and assistant coach Sam Greene, were investigated in March 2022 for inappropriate favoritism.
  • Both coaches then “engaged in retaliatory conduct toward players they believed to have participated” in the investigation. They were placed on leave and later banned from the league.

Racing Louisville

  • Christy Holly engaged in repeated sexual misconduct and abuse targeting player Erin Simon, as revealed in the US Soccer report and corroborated by the NWSL and NWSLPA report.

San Diego Wave

  • Former U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis denied receiving complaints from forward Christen Press about Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames during. Ellis, who now serves as Wave president, also did not recall players bringing verbal abuse by NWSL coaches to her attention during her time with the USWNT from 2014-17.

Washington Spirit

  • Richie Burke, who coached the Spirit from 2019-21, “used racial epithets, made jokes about race and ethnicity, and undermined activism on issues of race.” While he acknowledged much of this conduct to investigators, he “did not view his conduct as problematic.”


  • The NWSL itself also received criticism in the report. For example, Lisa Levine, who worked as general counsel for the league from 2017-21, mishandled player complaints, including those regarding Riley. When interviewed by the investigative team, she “deflected criticism of the NWSL’s failure to act in response to these complaints onto the players themselves.”

US Soccer

  • US Soccer too bears responsibility for systemic failures, the investigation found. The federation managed the NWSL from 2013-20, and whole former US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said they relied on the league and teams to develop misconduct policies, expectations were not communicated clearly, which resulted in a lack of oversight at all levels.