Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson, Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler stepping aside during NWSL investigation

Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler are each stepping clear of decision-making roles with their respective National Women’s Soccer League golf equipment till the findings are launched from an ongoing investigation into a lot of experiences of sexual misconduct and abuse across the league.

Paulson, who may be the owner of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, introduced his resolution in a assertion Tuesday, at some point after the discharge of the findings of a tense impartial investigation into the NWSL’s abuse commissioned via U.S. Soccer. A concurrent investigation remains to be being carried out collectively via the league and the avid gamers’ union, and Paulson plans to step away till its finishing touch.

“Yesterday’s Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league,” Paulson stated. “I know it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry.”

Later on Tuesday, Whisler, who additionally serves at the NWSL board of governors, made a identical transfer with the Red Stars, pronouncing in a assertion: “Our organization is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club, and I recognize that my current presence is a distraction. I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players’ incredible and well earned playoff run.

“So within the passion of the membership and the avid gamers, and enthusiasts we serve, efficient in an instant, I will be able to take away myself from my governance position inside the NWSL board of governors and can give up operational keep an eye on of the membership to our government group in Chicago.”

Yates’ report found that Whisler dismissed concerns from players about the abusive behavior of Red Stars coach Rory Dames, who resigned Nov. 21, 2021, amid accusations of verbal and emotional abuse by several players.

Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub, who have both served in executive roles with Paulson’s teams, are also stepping away from the Thorns, who are headed into the NWSL playoffs. Paulson’s statement didn’t indicate whether the trio will also step away from the Timbers, and Paulson gave no indication he plans to sell his teams.

NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman issued the following statement Tuesday in support of the two owners’ decisions: “The NWSL is supportive of the necessary steps taken via the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars lately. As the League continues to guage the Yates file, I need to guarantee you that we stay dedicated to enforcing reform and disciplinary motion, each on account of the Yates Report and the NWSL/NWSLPA’s Joint Investigative Team’s findings.”

Berman added that the NWSL’s joint investigative team was working towards concluding their report by the end of the year.

In the report filed by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Paulson is accused of enabling and supporting former Thorns coach Paul Riley after Riley was accused of harassment and sexual coercion by players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim. The investigation also found that Paulson and Wilkinson made inappropriate workplace comments to women.

Golub is accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks in 2013 to former Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone, now the president of U.S. Soccer. Golub has previously faced criticism for his workplace behavior and his tolerance for others’ misbehavior.

In her investigative report, Yates also accused Thorns management of not being forthcoming with information around Riley’s departure from the team in 2015, writing that the club “interfered with our get right of entry to to related witnesses and raised specious prison arguments in an try to obstruct our use of related paperwork.”

The Thorns didn’t announce why they weren’t renewing Riley’s contract that year, and Paulson subsequently vouched for Riley as he landed a job with the Western New York Flash, which subsequently became the North Carolina Courage. Riley was with the Courage until being fired in September 2021 after allegations of his misconduct were made public.

Heather Davis, the general counsel for the Thorns, will oversee the team’s decisions in Paulson’s absence.

“I very a lot admire your persistence and imagine it is important that the method play out with the Joint Investigation,” Paulson wrote in his announcement of his decision. “I really like the Portland Thorns and ladies’s football, and am taking those steps with the ones pursuits in thoughts.”

Information from the Associated Press used to be used on this tale.

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