The NWSL has announced that it terms an “update” on the investigation into the Washington Spirit, which has expanded to include multiple issues concerning abusive treatment of players and staff. The statement includes a definitive termination of Richie Burke’s contract “for cause,” and notes that he is barred from working with any NWSL players going forward.
The full statement is as follows:
As has been reported publicly, the National Women’s Soccer League learned of serious allegations concerning the conduct of certain members of the Washington Spirit organization. In response, and consistent with the NWSL’s standard practices and processes, an independent third party was retained to investigate those allegations, including to determine whether there had been any violations of the League’s Anti-Harassment Policy.
Based on the investigation’s findings and the NWSL’s determination that the Washington Spirit head coach cannot work with any NWSL players, the Washington Spirit’s head coach has been terminated for cause.
After considering the substance of the report, and taking into account prior actions of the Spirit, the NWSL’s board of governors has determined that the Spirit and its ownership have failed to act in the best interests of the League. The board has further concluded that representatives for the Washington Spirit will not be permitted to participate in League governance matters, effective immediately, and has initiated a process pursuant to which Washington Soccer Properties, LLC, must respond to the violation notice issued by the board within 14 days.
In order to support the integrity of the process and to protect the confidentiality of all those who courageously agreed to speak with investigators, the NWSL intends to keep the final investigation report confidential.
Black and Red United has further clarified with the league that the suspension from league governance is indefinite, and that the league requires a response to the violation notice within 14 days, rather than the suspension being just for 14 days.
In practical terms, this won’t have a direct impact on the Spirit’s upcoming games. It does sort out the matter of whether Burke could be reinstated, which remained a possibility while he was technically just suspended during the investigation, and it is a step forward for the NWSL in terms of transparency. That said, in day-to-day terms, the team will still operate as they have been while Steve Baldwin and Y. Michele Kang — who yesterday called on Baldwin to sell his portion of the team to her — vie for control of the club.