May 24, 2022

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Houston Dash suspend head coach and general manager James Clarkson effective immediately

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The Houston Dash suspended coach and general manager James Clarkson on Tuesday night, pending the results of an investigation into alleged violations of NWSL policy against workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying. The suspension was recommended by the league and NWSL Players Association Joint Investigative Team.

An interim head coach will be named for the season opener Sunday against San Diego.

The Dash investigation began in October following allegations of workplace misconduct, harassment, and an unsafe work environment, according to a joint statement by the league and the players association. Investigations are led by the Joint Investigative Team, composed of investigators from the law firms Covington & Burling and Weil, Gotshal & Manges. 

The NWSL was plagued last season by stories of verbal abuse, sexual coercion, and toxic playing environments stemming back a decade, leading to in-game demonstrations by players. Several games were postponed.

Players issued a list of demands, which were met, among them the creation of a joint investigative team.

“Players made a promise to ourselves and future generations to transform our League – not through words, but with our actions,” said NWSLPA Executive Director Meghann Burke. “This shows that our joint investigation is doing the work of systemic transformation. The work continues, and we commend Players for speaking up and speaking out.”

The league recently announced the hiring of new NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman, who officially took over the role on April 20. 

“As it relates to this particular situation, I want to thank the individuals who brought their concerns to the Joint Investigative Team, as well as Ted Segal, Jessica O’Neill and the Dash organization for taking swift action, and for their cooperation with the Joint Investigative Team’s recommendation,” said Berman.

 “I want to thank the players and staff throughout the league who have participated in the overall investigation thus far, and assure them, as well as our fans and partners, that we will deliver on our promise to create a workplace where players and staff are empowered to succeed in a healthy and safe environment.”

The league is currently celebrating 10 years of professional play, and recently expanded from 10 clubs to 12 teams. The NWSL will kick off the regular season Friday. The Challenge Cup semifinals are May 4. 





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