National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Jessica Berman has banned four coaches following the conclusion of an investigation. NWSL banned Paul Riley, Christy Holly, Rory Dames, and Richie Burke from coaching in the league again.

The joint investigation by the NWSL and their players association surrounded severe allegations made against these coaches. Riley, former Portland Thorns manager, faces accusations of coercion and sexual harassment from incidents throughout his time in the league. Dames was also found to have emotionally and verbally abused his players while with the Chicago Red Stars.

A total of six male team staff members in the NWSL were also previously fired in 2021 as well. Five of these personnel were coaches, while the sixth was a team’s general manager. Abuse, racist remarks, and sexual harassment were a few of the reasons for the sackings.

NWSL commissioner releases statement on abuse and misconduct bans

“The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first,” Berman said in a statement released on Monday. “Those actions are fundamental to the future of our league, especially as we build a league that strengthens our players’ ability to succeed and prosper on and off the pitch.”

“As part of our commitment to accountability and deterrence, the league has determined that further corrective action with respect to certain organizations and individuals identified in the Joint Investigative Report is appropriate and necessary.” 

Along with the aforementioned bans, Berman also gave temporary bans to former Utah Royals coach Craig Harrington and former Gotham general manager Alyse LaHue. NWSL bans those two for at least two years in this abuse and misconduct ruling.

Players association lauds Berman’s decision

The league’s players association welcomed the bans handed down by Berman. “This marks a critical step towards holding clubs and team leaders accountable for their actions, or in actions, that compromised and betrayed player safety,” read the statement.

Also, NWSL fined six clubs in the ruling. The Red Stars and Thorns both face penalties of at least $1 million. Racing Louisville, North Carolina Courage, OL Reign, and Gotham FC received fines, as well. NWSL struck those four teams with penalties in the $50,000-$200,000 range.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Zuma Wire