Farrelly's email. Awesome! One of the players perceived this as an attempt to convince them to go out drinking. A witness recalled that when introducing a staff member to the front office, a general manager announced that the staff member was "engaged to one of [the] players." Things actually can be spoken up about, be brought to light." 5. She was later named the team's interim general manager in April 2019 after former GM Tony Novo resigned. This is partly due to institutional factors; SafeSport only has jurisdiction over reports concerning NWSL coaches or staff who hold U.S. Soccer coaching licenses. Riley's attitude changed during the early 2015 NWSL season, when he began texting Shim often, asking her to coffee during road trips, and inviting her to watch game film with him to identify areas for improvement, sometimes changing the location of film-watching to his apartment. Through the better part of a decade, through four leagues, through tumultuous seasons and staff turnovers, LaHue made the organization her life and eventually rose to become the new General Manager, where she's steered the club through the early years of the NWSL era with grace . According to Wilkinson, he told Lines that U.S. Soccer had the investigative report regarding Riley. The NWSL should increase transparency regarding the outcomes of investigations and the NWSL's investigation processes generally. 58, imbalance between supervisors and their reports; (ii) the threat of favoritism; and The NWSL's 2022 Anti-Harassment Policy attempts to clarify the roles of the clubs and League in investigating misconduct. Sponsorship budgets reach farther than ever One player reported that Dames had one-on-one dinners with players where he made comments about their appearances and dating lives. These aren't criminal issues, they're behavior issues." Several witnesses noted that speaking to a coach's former players or employers about the coach's behavior could surface issues that would not be uncovered in a traditional background check. Nearly three weeks after my original reporting, during which Gotham ignored more than a half dozen requests for comment via various platforms, the club announced the end of the line with LaHue in a tersely worded statement that did not even acknowledge her by her full name, and which mostly passed the buck to the league office. Simon reported that Holly first engaged in sexual misconduct toward her in the summer of 2019. Predmore confirmed that during the 2020 Challenge Cup, he was informed by a staff member that Benstiti made comments to a player about the quantity and type of food the player was eating during a team meal. Another player said Harrington made other comments about players' appearances and bodies, including their breasts. Riley made shaming, non-performancerelated remarks about Kurtz's weight and appearance. In the 2015 survey, two players for the Red Stars stated that Dames was "abusive." Another player recalled either O'Connor or Estes stating that what Holly did was disgusting" and "unacceptable," and that the club would ensure this never happens again." By the time U.S. Soccer's investigator contacted the complainant to interview her, the Red Stars had already traded her. He said that he did not believe Kurtz was saying that she could not play for Riley, and did not believe that Kurtz was upset or emotional during the call. This misconduct did not occur in a vacuum. 15, "manipulative" and noted that Holly stopped building her up and "became a monster" after she began a relationship with someone. The latest report into allegations of abuse in American womens soccer was published on Tuesday by the National Womens Soccer League and the NWSL Players Association. One player who was waived after the 2021 season had signed a multi-year contract extension with the club before the August meeting. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, the statement from LaHues lawyer claimed that investigators provided Ms. LaHue a few documents that contained alterations. Don't ever leave me." One player recalled that the men's team was allowed to train on better practice fields, and the women were asked to train on inferior fields despite the availability of better fields near where the men practiced, apparently because the men's team found it distracting to practice near the women. A different player recounted that after a tournament, her team received a "ton of alcohol to have a party." 7. At one point during the 2017 season, players held a meeting with coaching staff to address their concerns that Holly was dating Pearce Rampone. Getting a massage." In January 2018, Dames informed Whisler that he could lower the pay for two staff members because those staff members would earn additional income working for Eclipse. Two former staff members recalled reporting to Wilkinson concerns they had about Riley's treatment of players; one of the staff members said Wilkinson dismissed the staff member's concerns and told the staff member to "support the coaching staff." Additionally, Shim told Garcia that following the incident in which she and Farrelly kissed at Riley's apartment, Farrelly told Shim that this kind of thing happened with Riley. Club owners, coaches, and general managers from Utah Royals FC, OL Reign, NJ/NY Gotham FC, the Washington Spirit, Racing Louisville FC, and later, the Chicago Red Stars departed their clubs following reports of misconduct towards players, including overtly racist conduct, verbal and emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. A third-party investigator conducted an investigation, and on July 8, 2021, the League concluded that Ms. One player recounted feeling like Dames picked the players who did not "have power to report him," while those with "more status in the League" were given his trust and respect. During the 2017 season, Simon recalled players learning that Holly had been dating another player, Christie Pearce Rampone. During that time, Lines spoke with Wilkinson, Lines's former teammate on the Portland Timbers and the New Zealand national team, regarding Riley and his suitability for the head coach role. For example, in 2018, Horan wrote an op-ed about her time at PSG and stated what she "went through was almost like abuse emotionally and mentally," and "extremely intense." It would be good to know those things exist, to get access. In September 2015, Gulati and Flynn received Shim's email containing allegations against Riley, and during the Thorns's investigation, they received some updates related to Riley and to the investigation from Levine. The report makes a number of suggestions on guidelines that can create this stability moving forward for the league. . . For example, one player reported to The Washington Post that after she resisted inappropriate comments and invitations from Dames, he benched her and forced her to practice with reserve players, rather than the first team. Evaluation of "[c]omprehensive policies and procedures created for the league and all member clubs to ensure moving forward that there is a systematic, transparent, and effective execution of any harassment or workplace conduct issues." But public reporting around misconduct against NWSL players has increased in recent years. If not, you can sign up below. One player on the Red Stars described witnessing Dames go after her teammates even after it was "pretty obvious" that they were "mentally destroyed." On at least one occasion, he mandated that a player "weigh in" on a daily basis and told her that she would not see the field until she hit a certain weight. According to the USSF Dames Report, Dames told a player that when her son got Simon explained that after she confronted Holly for sexually abusing her, as discussed in greater detail above, Holly began verbally abusing her, including in front of other players. Another player remembered that Riley would "buy rounds and rounds of shots," which she thought was "awesome" as a 21-year-old but later found "weird." According to Markgraf, Wahlke said that the Thorns had investigated the matter, and Markgraf understood from the conversation that Riley had been cleared and that his departure from the club was not related to the 2015 investigation. Dames was not the only coach who resorted to critiques of players' parental status: a player described Riley "berating [one player]" through an entire game and blaming the loss on her infant son." James Clarkson (Houston Dash, Head Coach and General Manager, 2019-) soccer career. The 2022 Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits harassment, including harassment on the basis of race. Unprofessional Communications In most cases, witnesses were interviewed one at a time, although some interviews were conducted in small groups-for example, interviews of NWSLPA player representatives from certain clubs and of representatives from the Black Women's Player Collective, an organization founded by Black NWSL players to "advance opportunities for Black girls in sport and beyond." And Levine, in spite of having been kept apprised of the Thorns's investigation in 2015 and having read the investigative report, did not take Shim's and Farrelly's 2021 complaints to the NWSL regarding Riley seriously; in fact, Levine drafted responses on which Baird-who had no prior familiarity with the 2015 investigation-relied to respond to Shim and Farrelly and essentially decline to inquire into Riley further. The publication of this Report marks the conclusion of the Joint Investigative Team's mandate to investigate ongoing concerns of misconduct in the NWSL. This included withholding documents and other information related to an investigation U.S. Soccer conducted into reports of misconduct by Rory Dames for the better part of a year. The findings, however, were not effectively communicated to Pride players or staff. .88 While the League itself cannot dictate changes to settings outside its purview, such as youth soccer or other leagues, it can implement reforms to the policies and practices within its control, which will in turn allow the League to serve as a standard-bearer and blueprint for other institutions. Consider Creating an Alternative Complaint Resolution Program In particular, the Joint Investigative Team did not receive a copy of Dames's separation agreement from the Red Stars until the end of this investigation, after the publication of the USSF Report. Following the publication of the Athletic article in 2021, Paulson stated in Golub's presence that "Mike [Golub] spent a lot of time on the phone w/Aaran Lines" when the Flash were considering hiring Riley. Additionally, Whisler repeatedly minimized and dismissed concerns raised by players and staff about Dames. Nonetheless, substantial work remains to be done to ensure the safety of players in the NWSL, and effective change will need to last beyond one commissioner. Other players reported instances of Dames texting players late at night, commenting on players' appearances, and "routinely" taking "some of his favorites out to dinner." Simon then joined West Ham United in the English Women's Super League, a move she credited in large part to Holly's help and connections. For example, multiple players on the Red Stars reported that players were concerned that the club would fold if it received negative press. However, Plush observed, Looking back, it is clear to me that no matter how many conversations I had with [the Flash] . One Courage player reported feeling that the club was moving in the right direction in 2021 after the firing of Riley, but that the club's signing of Daniels was a decision that "says a lot" and did not "align with the direction we thought we were heading in. The Joint Investigative Team made substantial efforts to contact individuals who might have information relevant to past and present misconduct in the NWSL, and did not refuse any witness's request to speak with the Joint Investigative Team during this investigation. 36, findings about Riley's inappropriate behavior beyond that night. However, interviewees reported that Clarkson on occasion failed to recognize or appreciate his effect on players. Develop and Enforce Guidelines Addressing Appropriate Interactions Between Club Staff and Players. . Given this conduct, players feared retaliation from Burke and held back from criticizing him out of fear they would be waived. The report included: (i) descriptions of those interviewed; (ii) details about players' concerns, as well as Dames's and Whisler's responses to those concerns; (iii) a summary of the law firm's factual findings; and (iv) a conclusion. In the course of the investigation, the Joint Investigative Team investigated not only historical misconduct by coaches and other club staff, but also ongoing concerns of misconduct raised by players and staff regarding current player-facing personnel in the NWSL, including concerns that were raised for the first time after the investigation commenced. As one staff member explained, there had "always been a high interest and attention" in this player by LaHue. However, Baird had received and reviewed Shim's complaint to the NWSL in March 2021, to which Shim attached her September 2015 complaint detailing sexual misconduct by Riley. After re-signing her in 2021, the club issued a public apology "to all those we have hurt, especially those within the LGBTQIA+ community, but stood by its decision, keeping Daniels on the team for the remainder of the season. The player heard that during the meeting, Wilkinson asked about Shim's March 2021 email to the NWSL and stated he could not believe Riley had been hired by . The investigators said they conducted more than 200 interviews and reviewed some 200,000 documents. The HR employee told the Joint Investigative Team that Levine conveyed that the matter was under control, had been investigated, and that Riley had been "cleared." The Joint Investigative Team distributed this contact information via email to all current and former players for whom the Joint Investigative Team could identify an email address.
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