National Women’s Soccer League Issues Lifetime Bans To Four Coaches

Four former National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) coaches, including Englishman Paul Riley, have been given lifetime bans after an investigation found “systemic” misconduct in the league.

In addition two clubs, the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns, have been fined $1.5m (£1.24m) and $1m (£824,170) respectively.

An investigation was launched in 2021 following allegations made against North Carolina Courage’s coach Riley, who was sacked.

After the alleged offences against Riley came to light, a round of NWSL games were suspended before players halted matches in their own displays of unity, while league commissioner Lisa Baird resigned.

Riley has denied the accusations.

Now four coaches have been subjected to “permanent exclusion” from the league. They are Riley, former Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly, former Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames and former Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke.

“As part of our commitment to accountability and deterrence, the league has determined that further corrective action with respect to certain organisations and individuals identified in the Joint Investigative Report is appropriate and necessary,” commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement on Monday.

“The league and its clubs have taken meaningful steps to begin this structural reform.”

Eight individuals’ future employment with the NWSL is listed as “conditional”. That includes Vera Pauw, the former Houston Dash head coach who currently manages the Republic of Ireland women’s national football team.

In December Pauw said “false” allegations she body-shamed players in the USA in 2018 are “an insult to my personal values”.

Arnim Whisler, who owns the Red Stars, and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson have agreed to sell their teams.

Other sanctions include a $200,000 fine for Racing Louisville and a $100,000 fine for the Courage. The NWSL is compelling the owners of both teams to hire sporting staff that is “completely distinct” from their respective men’s teams.