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Spirit News: Amber Brooks suspended and Spirit announce new front office hire

We have some good news and some bad news...

NWSL: Challenge Cup Final-Washington Spirit vs North Carolina Courage Lewis Gettier-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Spirit took a bit of the main stage during News Dump Friday in the woso world. That means we have a bit of good news and a bit of bad news, so which do you want first? Nevermind we can’t hear you so here’s the bad news...

Defender Amber Brooks suspended

The National Women’s Soccer League’s Disciplinary Committee has suspended and issued a fine to Washington Spirit defender Amber Brooks for making an obscene gesture toward an assistant referee during the team’s match against San Diego FC. Brooks will miss today’s match with Gotham FC due to yellow card accumulation, as well as the following match against Angel City FC per this decision.

In an image that has become popular with women’s soccer fans on social media, Brooks raised both middle fingers in the air after referees awarded a corner kick to San Diego in the 82nd minute of the match. Brooks beat her marker to a dangerous ball and cleared it out of play toward the sideline. Except, the assistant referee judged it to have flew by the other side of the corner flag for a corner, which prompted the gesture to express her displeasure during a tense game, and moment. Wave goalscorer Alex Morgan put the ball in the back of the net after the ensuing corner kick, bringing her team back from 3-1 to 3-3 and nearly costing the Spirt the match.

Brooks was not disciplined during the match for her gesture, which the League says violated Section 12.3.6, “Major Game Misconduct”, of the League Operations Manual. Ironically, days before the suspension was announced, Brooks was named Budweiser Player of the Week after winning a fan vote on Twitter. Several fans reposted the image of Brooks’s “double bird” in the comments of that poll, as well as in reaction to news of yesterday’s suspension.

Emma May hired as Spirit President of Business Operations

Now for the good news. The Spirit announced they have hired Emma May, current Senior Brand Director of Global Athlete Marketing at Nike, as the team’s new President of Business Operations.

“Emma is the perfect leader as we embark on an ambitious goal of professionalizing and transforming the club into one of the best sports franchises in the world,” team owner Michelle Kang said. “Emma’s experience and expertise in branding, marketing and media, especially in the sports world, is second to none.”

Before May’s current position at Nike, she worked as Vice President of Marketing for Bleacher Report Live, NBA Digital and NBA on TNT, among other positions. Her first day in the new role with the Spirit will be October 24.

May’s hire is yet another statement of intent from majority owner Y. Michele Kang. The first was Kang securing the services of Florida State legend Mark Krikorian as President of Soccer Operations. Few people know the landscape of women’s soccer in America better than Krikorian, or has more connections. In fact, new interim manager Albertin Montoya moved coast to coast to take the helm at the Spirit in large part due to his relationship with Krikorian. Given May’s background, she should come with a similarly impressive stable of connections and partners.

The President of Business Operations position at Washington was previously held by Lindsay Barenz, who left in August 2021 and now serves as President of Oakland Roots SC.