Calls for change in the NWLS after independent investigation detailed systemic abuse
The GIST: More than a week after an independent investigation detailed systemic abuse in the NWSL, many are increasing the volume on calls for change. The league’s most scrutinized clubs saw even more operational shakeup over the long weekend, and brands started cutting off relations with complicit owners.
The leadership: NJ/NY Gotham FC stakeholder Steven Temares temporarily removed himself from governance roles on Sunday, and Merritt Paulson stepped down as CEO of the Portland Thorns and MLS’ Portland Timbers yesterday. Chicago Red Stars players, meanwhile, published an open letter on Monday, demanding that founder Arnim Whisler sell his shares.
- As for on-the-pitch leadership, the NWSL dismissed Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell and first assistant coach Sam Greene on Monday for “engaging in retaliatory conduct” toward players who made misconduct allegations against them. Cleanin’ house.
The sponsors: Oregon-based loan company Directors Mortgage pulled the plug on its partnership with both Portland teams last week, while longtime jersey sponsor Alaska Airlines paused its relationship with the club on Sunday. Notable paint brand Sherwin-Williams suspended its deal with Racing Louisville on Friday.
- Both Sherwin-Williams and Alaska Airlines are redirecting funds to the Support the Players National Emergency Trust, a portal created by the NWSL Players Association. We love to see it.
Zooming out: As divesting from abusive organizations becomes an industry standard for sponsors, Sherwin-Williams and Alaska Airlines are sending money straight to the players, blueprinting an approach that feels particularly appropriate in women's sports. The right way to leverage financial power.