The National Women’s Soccer League’s struggles with coaches behaving badly continued today. This time, its Orlando franchise is serving as the culprit. From the league’s press release:
The NWSL and NWSLPA Joint Investigative Team has recommended that Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell and Assistant Coach Sam Greene be placed on temporary administrative leave, effective immediately, pending the conclusion of an investigation into alleged retaliation in violation of the NWSL Policy to Prevent and Eliminate Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying. This is an interim step while the investigation is ongoing, and no final determinations or conclusions have been reached.
The recommendation comes as part of the broader ongoing investigation that began in October 2021 to explore allegations of workplace misconduct toward NWSL players, as well as systemic issues in the league that impact the prevention, detection, and response to misconduct.
The Pride have accepted the Joint Investigative Team’s preliminary recommendation and a decision regarding both Cromwell’s and Greene’s future with the team will be made after the investigation concludes.
The club has named Pride Assistant Coach Seb Hines to serve as interim coach.
The Joint Investigation remains ongoing, and the NWSL and NWSLPA encourage current and former players and staff with information relating to discrimination, harassment, abuse, or bullying within the league, whether in connection with this incident or other issues, to contact [email protected], to reach out to the NWSL or NWSLPA directly, or through any other club and league reporting channels.
Due to the continuing nature of the investigation, the NWSL and the Pride will have no further comment at this time.
The action follows this past April’s suspension of Houston Dash coach and general manager James Clarkson, pending an investigation of harassment charges against him, meaning 2022 is picking up where 2021 left off.
Similar issues beset the league in 2021 when the North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley over mounting accusations of sexual misconduct toward his players when he previously coached the Portland Thorns. The fallout included the resignation of then-NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.
The Washington Spirit fired coach Richie Burke that same month following a Washington Post story that featured allegations he created an abusive work environment for his players. And Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames resigned in November amid allegations that ranged from verbal abuse to jokes about players’ ethnicity and religion and improper expectations that players spend time with him beyond practice.
Makes one wonder when the league finds time to play actual soccer games.
Back to the original story. While details are scarce, The Athletic has a few tidbits to share.
The league has frozen any roster movement in Orlando to prevent players from being traded or waived, multiple sources told The Athletic.
According to the policy, the league prohibits reprisal or retaliation for any of the following: “filing a good faith report under (the) Policy; supporting or assisting, in good faith, someone else in pursuing a report or in an investigation; objecting to misconduct; or filing, testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing conducted by a governmental enforcement agency.”
Ms. Cromwell has not commented publicly on the matter.
Before anyone goes off on a “who cares — it’s only women’s soccer and besides they hate Christians and Megan Rapinoe is a POOPYHEAD” jag, a true story from my day job. One afternoon, a grandmother and granddaughter came in. The girl was eagerly searching for an Alex Morgan jersey. I forget if we had one on hand, but I recall the conversation with both. The girl loved soccer. Her dream was to one day play for the US national team like Morgan. Whether one cares for or about women’s soccer is immaterial to the girl’s dream. Should she be one of the blessed few with the skill and determination to play at the sport’s highest levels, she deserves to be able to do so without workplace harassment. For any reason. By anyone. Period.