Spirit coach Burke 'terminated for cause' after NWSL investigation

Richie Burke Washington Spirit NWSLGetty Images

The National Women's Soccer League has announced that Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke has been terminated for cause following a league investigation.

Burke had been on leave after the NWSL opened an investigation in the wake of a Washington Post report stating he had been verbally abusive to his players.  

The NWSL also banned Spirit ownership from participating in league governance matters, giving them 14 days to respond to the charges.

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What was said?

"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," a league statement read.

"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."

The bigger picture

Spirit owner Steve Baldwin has been involved in a public battle for control over the team with his co-owner Y. Michelle Kang.

Amid allegations of a toxic workplace culture under Baldwin's ownership, Kang called on her co-owner to sell her his stake in the team this week.

Baldwin's decision to hire Burke in 2019 has been under the microscope recently, given the allegations of abuse he faced at the time and the similar behavior he reportedly displayed with the Spirit. 

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