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Timbers sponsor KeyBank redirects funding to Thorns, women’s sports

The Thorns and Timbers play their home matches at Portland's Providence Park. (Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The sponsorship fallout continues for Portland’s NWSL and MLS franchises following the publication of U.S. Soccer’s report on alleged abuses in the women’s league.

KeyBank, who has been a sponsor for the MLS club but not the NWSL club, said in a statement Friday that it is in talks with both clubs to “redirect sponsorship from the Timbers to the Thorns.”

In addition, in 2023 the banking company “will be using money previously dedicated to the Timbers sponsorship to invest in programs that support young women in sports in the Portland community.”

The Portland Thorns were one of three teams at the center of the U.S. Soccer report, which detailed allegations of sexual abuse and coercion against former coach Paul Riley during his time with the team. Riley was fired in 2015 as a result of the allegations, but the club kept the reason for his exit under wraps.

In the aftermath of the report, PTFC, the parent organization for the Thorns and Timbers, fired president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business operations Mike Golub. Owner Merritt Paulson has stepped down as CEO of both the Thorns and Timbers.

Star player Sophia Smith noted Monday that the organization appears to be moving in the right direction, saying the staff has “been listening to the players.”

In the fallout of the report, multiple sponsors have threatened to remove dollars from the club, while others, such as Alaska Airlines, have redirected sponsorship dollars to the NWSLPA fund.

KeyBank joins the list of companies to change up their sponsorship in the wake of the report.

“Our goal is to create a sponsorship agreement that directly benefits Thorns players and provides opportunities for women in soccer,” KeyBank’s statement reads.