Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell and assistant coach Sam Greene have been sacked after “engaging in retaliatory conduct” towards players who had complained about them in a previous investigation.
The United States’ National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) said their conduct “discouraged reporting and fostered a general fear of retaliation”.
They also tried waive or trade certain players who they believed had made or supported misconduct allegations against them earlier in the year.
It comes a week after an independent investigation found abuse and misconduct “had become systemic” in the NWSL.
In a statement on Twitter, former United States international Cromwell said she was “saddened and disappointed” by the results of the NWSL’s latest investigation, adding her character and integrity had been “mischaracterised”.
In March, allegations were made of “verbal abuse” towards players by Cromwell and of “improper favouritism” by both Cromwell and Greene. After an investigation, some of the claims were substantiated and both received written warnings, with Cromwell required to take part in leadership training.
Two months later, the NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s joint investigation team received reports that the pair were engaging in retaliatory conduct. The league says “these allegations were substantiated” by another investigation.
The investigation team also found that goalkeeping coach Aline Reis – a former Brazil international – did not fully cooperate and was “pressuring players to share favourable information with investigators”.
In June, Cromwell, Greene, Reis and assistant coach Michelle Akers raised complaints that they were subjected to various forms of misconduct, claims that were found to be unsubstantiated by an NWSL-commissioned investigation by a third party.
As a result of the investigation team’s findings, the NWSL has terminated Cromwell’s and Greene’s contracts with immediate effect, while Reis has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and must take part in mandatory training regarding “retaliation, discrimination, harassment and bullying”.
Cromwell and Greene must complete the same training, as well as “mandatory executive coaching”, if they hope to return to working in the NWSL. They will only be allowed to return to the NWSL if approved by the league’s commissioner.
Cromwell, 52, said that she would be “reviewing all legal options”, saying the investigation was “biased and incomplete”.
“As we continue to build a league as elite as the players on the pitch, it is critically important that we foster a culture where individuals can safely come forward with concerns without fear of reprisal,” said NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman.
“These retaliation concerns were identified during the NWSL/NWSLPA joint investigation and interim measures were put in place due to the ongoing nature of the misconduct.”
Orlando Pride chairman Mark Wilf said: “Our club is dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful environment, and we apologise to our players who may have experienced otherwise.
“We are committed to learning from this process as we continue to build and grow the Pride into the premier organisation our players and fans deserve.”