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Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin resigns amid NWSL shakeup

By Jonna Lorenz
1/5
Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin resigns amid NWSL shakeup
Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin announced his resignation Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Washington Spirit

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin announced his resignation Tuesday amid allegations of a toxic work environment and the firing of coach Richie Burke last week for alleged abuse.

"While there is a range of opinions on how we got here, and how to move forward, everyone -- none more so than me -- is committed to improving the club's culture, removing distractions and returning the focus to the players and the pursuit of a championship," Baldwin said in a statement posted to Twitter.

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"With that goal in mind, and at the recent request of our players, I have decided to resign as CEO and Managing Partner of the Washington Spirit, effective immediately," Baldwin said.

The announcement is the latest shakeup in the National Women's Soccer League, which is confronting calls by players to end "systemic abuse," the Washington Post reported.

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Abuse allegations led to the firing of Burke, as well as coach Paul Riley of North Carolina courage.

The NWSL announced Sept. 28 that Burke was "terminated for cause" and that it had initiated an investigation into allegations of harassment.

U.S. Soccer said Sunday it hired former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to lead an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of players by coaches in the NWSL. The league postponed five matches over the weekend.

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Washington Spirit President Ben Olsen will take over full authority for club operations.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for me ... I hope that stepping back removes me as a distraction and allows the club to thrive," Baldwin said.

Baldwin didn't say whether he would sell his shares in the team. In a letter to investors Monday, co-owner Y. Michelle Kang called for Baldwin to sell his shares in the team.

RELATED NWSL's North Carolina Courage fire coach Paul Riley amid misconduct allegations

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