Former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley, who was fired in 2021, was permanently suspended from the NWSL on Monday. Photo courtesy of BDZ Sports/Wikimedia Commons
Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The National Women's Soccer League issued permanent suspensions for four coaches after a league and players union investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
The NWSL announced Monday night that former Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley, former Racing Louisville manager Christy Holly, former Chicago Red Stars manager Rory Dames and former Washington Spirit manager Richie Burke are "permanently excluded" from the NWSL.
In October, the U.S. Soccer Federation released a report detailing the verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct. That report followed a yearlong investigation, led by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, which was triggered when The Athletic detailed allegations of sexual coercion and inappropriate comments made by Riley.
The report also detailed allegations of abuse made by Holly and Dame and a culture of silence and fear of retaliation, which allowed the misconduct to continue.
In 2021, Riley was among five male head coaches who were either fired or resigned for non-soccer reasons.
"The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first," NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said in a news release.
"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."
In its latest wave of disciplinary measures, the NWSL also said that former Utah Royals manager Craig Harrington and former Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue each are ineligible to work in the NWSL in any capacity for two years.
Harrington and LaHue also must acknowledge "wrongdoing" and accept personal responsibility for "inappropriate conduct," participate in training and show a commitment to "correcting behavior" to return to the league after the suspensions.
Former OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti, Houston Dash coach James Clarkson and former Dash coach Vera Pauw were not issued suspensions, but also must meet those aforementioned conditions to coach in the NWSL, the league said.
Former Orlando Pride manager Amanda Cromwell, assistant coach Sam Greene and goalkeeper coach Aline Reis -- whose disciplinary measures were previously communicated -- must meet those same conditions to return.
The NWSL also fined the Red Stars $1.5 million and fined the Thorns $1 million. The league fined Racing Louisville $200,000 and fined the Courage $100,000. The Reign and Gotham FC received respective $50,000 fines.
"The NWSL announced disciplinary sanctions for clubs and individuals who committed or enabled misconduct since the league began in 2013," the NWSL Players Association said in a statement.
"This marks a critical step toward holding clubs and team leaders accountable for their actions, or inactions, that compromised and betrayed player safety.
"People in positions of power who have perpetrated harm on players have been relieved of their duties, banned from the league, suspended or fined."
The 2023 NWSL Draft will be at 6 p.m. EST Thursday and air on CBS Sports Network, Paramount+ and CBS Sports HQ. Preseason camps will run from Jan. 23 through Feb. 6. The regular season will start March 25.