The Washington Spirit fired coach Kris Ward after an “incident at the training grounds,” club president and general manager Mark Krikorian revealed Thursday.
After the incident, which occurred on Aug. 19, club leadership notified both the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association and met with players.
“It became apparent to me and to all that a change was necessary,” Krikorian told reporters.
The Spirit announced Ward’s dismissal Monday but had not provided any further information about the decision until Krikorian’s media call Thursday morning.
Krikorian declined to provide details of the incident. He also declined to say whether the league or the NWSLPA would investigate the incident.
While he wants to be transparent, Krikorian said, “there are a lot of elements that are going to slow us down in how we act,” in terms of providing details of the incident and Ward’s firing.
Ward’s relationships with several players had frayed this season ahead of his dismissal, the Washington Post reported Monday. The team also is in the midst of a 17-match winless streak dating back to the season opener on May 1.
“It’s important to establish that, under Michele Kang’s leadership and guidance, that our goal here is to establish an environment where every decision we make is going to be in the best interest in the players,” Krikorian said.
Ward, 42, stepped into the role of interim head coach last August, taking over for Richie Burke, who was suspended and later fired following an investigation into abuse allegations. Ward led the club to its first NWSL championship last season and was hired as the permanent head coach in December.
First-year assistant and former NWSL player Angela Salem has stepped in to run practices, and she will also oversee the Spirit in their Saturday road contest against the Houston Dash.
The club is awaiting background checks before naming an interim coach. Krikorian, who came to Washington after a storied coaching career at Florida State, confirmed Thursday that he will not return to the sidelines as coach.