Systemic abuse in the NWSL continues
Content warning: This section contains mention of sexual abuse.
The GIST: The fallout from last month’s Sally Yates investigation into systemic abuse in the NWSL continued on Wednesday with new reporting that front office members at Racing Louisville FC (including the current president) enabled a culture of abuse under head coach Christy Holly. Burn it all down.
The context: Holly’s history of toxicity was at the center of the bombshell Yates report, with the investigation unveiling horrific claims of sexual abuse against him. Team leadership fired him in August 2021 after learning of those allegations, but did not give a reason for Holly’s dismissal at the time.
The latest: Six former Racing players and one former staff member allege that current president James O’Connor, former president Brad Estes and the rest of the front office fostered a toxic culture at the club.
- Reporting from local Louisville outlet WHAS11 detailed verbal abuse, mishandling of injuries and failure to address player concerns.
- In fact, in 2021, when three players bravely spoke to HR about their experiences, an HR staffer revealed their identities to Holly and others when scheduling a follow-up meeting via email. WTF?
What’s next: Those who spoke out in Wednesday’s report called for O’Connor to be removed as president, along with those who failed to act on players’ complaints. But Louisville is withholding comment (and apparently action) until the ongoing joint NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s investigation into abuse in the league has ended.
- And while that investigation was initially expected to conclude shortly after the season ended in late October, commissioner Jessica Berman has since said they have no specific direction on timeline, but that they will leave no stone unturned.