Thorns fire athletic trainer, assistant coach following NWSL investigation

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The National Women’s Soccer League said Tuesday the Portland Thorns fired its athletic trainer after an outside investigation found he was illegally distributing controlled substances to players. announced.

The NWSL, which has been plagued by allegations of abuse and misconduct in recent years, has announced that trainer Pierre Soubrier has been fired, along with Sophie Clough, an assistant coach for Thorns. am married to The league said Clough made unwanted contact with a player.

The league also said abuse allegations against former Washington Spirit coach Chris Ward have been substantiated and that he is ineligible to work in the NWSL without the commissioner’s approval. It was concluded that they were involved in “negative racial stereotypes about

Thornes’ team doctor, Dr. Brian Brown, reported in November that Souvrier had given a player a drug containing codeine without a prescription the previous month.

Thornes coach Rian Wilkinson resigned last month after leading the team to the NWSL title, and owner Merritt Paulson has put the team up for sale. After self-reporting that he and the players had developed feelings for one another but failed to take action, Wilkinson said he was investigated by the NWSL and its players’ union and found wrongdoing.

An investigation by former Attorney General Sally Q. Yates revealed in October that abuse at the league was systemic, and last month’s report by the league and its union found widespread wrongdoing.

Soubrier, 35, was born in France, played college football at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut, and was hired by the Thorns in 2019. Dunn, his 2019 World Cup champion and 128 international appearances player, met Soubrier when he was in Washington. They married her in December 2018. Dunn was not cited for misconduct by NWSL.

The league said abuse allegations against Washington Spirit head coach Chris Ward, pictured in this 2021 file photo, have been substantiated and he is ineligible to work in the NWSL without the commissioner’s approval. An investigation concluded that Ward was involved in “negative racial stereotyping of players.” (Jeff Dean/Associated Press)

When contacted by the Associated Press, Soubrier declined to comment on the league’s statement at this time.

He was given paid leave on December 7, and an investigation found that “Souvrier has administered a controlled substance to a player on multiple occasions without a prescription and without medical supervision, in violation of federal and state law and league policy.” In addition, Souvrier administered drugs to one of the players without their informed consent.”

Brown told investigators that he provided Souvrier access to the controlled substance at the trainer’s request, in order to give it to the players as needed.

Soubrier will be suspended from the league without pay until the end of the 2023 season, and the NWSL said it will report him to the Oregon State Athletic Trainers Commission and Accreditation Commission. The league said the team had fired Soubrier, saying, “He has admitted wrongdoing, accepted personal responsibility for his actions, and demonstrated a good-faith commitment to correcting his actions.” He said he was eligible for future NWSL employment, subject to decisions and requirements.

Enhanced monitoring

Brown will be subject to increased monitoring and reporting by the NWSL’s chief medical officer for three months, after which he will be evaluated, the league said.

United States Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cohn forwarded questions about the matter to spokesman Neil Buses, but he said the organization declined to comment.

The league was told by Thornes in November that Clough “discomforted a player by kissing him on the neck at the team’s victory celebration”. However, the allegations of bullying behavior were not substantiated, and “Clough did not go beyond the scope of appropriate coaching,” he said.

Clough, 34, has been the Thornes’ assistant coach since 2016. She was also suspended without pay from the league until the 2023 season and fired from the team.

Clough will be banned in the league if he “attends training related to discrimination, harassment and bullying, demonstrates a clear commitment to correcting behavior, admits wrongdoing and accepts personal responsibility for inappropriate conduct.” I am qualified to do another job.

Ward, 43, was fired on a 15-game winning streak last August after leading Washington to the 2020 NWSL title. The league said it “expressed concerns about verbal abuse and emotional misconduct”. He was harassing me,” he said.

The NSWL said Ward would need approval from the league commissioner to be eligible for future employment and “must attend mandatory training related to discrimination, harassment, bullying and racial prejudice.” It is necessary to “admit wrongdoing and accept individual responsibility for inappropriate conduct”.

Clough and Ward could not be reached by AP.

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