As the NWSL and its clubs grapple with the fallout from the allegations abuse by a number of its coaches, a series of investigations – from teams involved up to US Soccer and FIFA itself – have been launched, along with calls for better reporting policies and procedures. As part of its first steps to deal with the scandal, the league has partnered with RealResponse, a real-time anonymous reporting platform that allows users to share their comments regarding misconduct, policy violations and ‘other health and safety issues. Now, OL Reign, one of the clubs caught in the sights of the scandal, is doing the same.
Reign’s two-year deal with RealResponse marks the risk management technology platform’s first professional team partnership and will provide players with an official reporting system previously absent at the club level. The NWSL was RealResponse’s first professional sports league partner, joining clients including the NFL Players Association.
NWSL only implemented a formal anti-harassment law Politics and reporting protocol earlier this year, and many teams, who still don’t have theirs, are deferring to league procedures.
As part of Reign’s internal review of its policies and protocols, the organization has decided to hire a member of Human Resources staff, who will handle any RealResponse complaints or comments. Human resources departments are also scarce among NWSL clubs.
“The events of the past week have shown everyone in the league that we need to make sure that there are clear and easy-to-use channels for players to communicate with league staff or with league staff. ‘team on a variety of issues – some of them may be harmless, some of them have levels of abuse, “said OL Reign CEO and minority owner Bill Predmore. OL Group, the parent company of French football clubs Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, acquired a majority stake in the Tacoma, WA-based team in 2020 from Predmore.
“While we are proud to partner with OL Reign and the new leaders of the NWSL in their commitment to their players, we share the incredible heartbreak of these brave women of the NWSL who have stepped forward to share their stories.” said David Chadwick, founder of RealResponse. “By providing athletes and OL Reign staff with a confidential resource to send information directly to team officials on a wide range of needs, we are honored to play a small role in advancing the common engagement.” to ensure the safety of the athletes and staff of OL Reign and the NWSL. . “
OL head coach Reign Farid Benstiti resigned in July. Upon his departure, Predmore said the club appreciated his “many contributions” over the past 18 months and wished him well in his future endeavors, citing “a collective agreement that new leadership was needed to achieve the goals. performance and results needed. to meet our ambitions. The declaration did not address any fault.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Benstiti was in fact asked to resign after players reported he was verbally abusive. Predmore confirmed that Benstiti was asked to leave after a particular incident this summer, telling Sportico the inappropriate comments Benstiti made to the players were brought to his attention immediately afterwards, triggering a “process” which ended with the French coach’s resignation 72 hours later. A player also filed an official abuse complaint with the NWSL, which the club said they learned later.
Predmore said he believes Reign has a good track record in dealing with issues brought to his attention and stressed the “confidence” the players have in management in handling complaints against Benstiti. The executive also recognized the need for formal processes or systems, such as RealResponse and a human resources manager.
“I don’t think it would have changed anything about the way I heard about it or the way we handled the situation with Farid, but it’s really to resolve issues that I may not be familiar with. be not and / or any issues that might arise in the future that for some reason someone might feel uncomfortable approaching me directly, “he said.” What can I do? how do we make a system that is as bulletproof as possible in order to address all of a player’s concerns? ”
The truth behind Benstiti’s resignation was not revealed until after North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was sacked on September 30 over allegations of sexual misconduct during his time with the Portland Thorns . Riley’s sacking marked the culmination of the swelling scandal, coming two days after Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke was fired following an NWSL investigation into allegations of abuse and verbal and emotional abuse. A month earlier, Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly’s contract was terminated for cause on August 31.
Along with the investigations, the scandal sparked an uproar from league players, calls for ownership changes and several layoffs and departures, including the resignation of NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird just 19 months after her tenure began. Sub player pressure, Portland chief executive and chairman Gavin Wilkinson has also been appointed administrative leave of The spikes, but not the MLS Timbers, pending the results of the club’s current review of its 2015 investigation into the charges against Riley.
North Carolina has also come under scrutiny after owner Steve Malik revealed the club were aware of Thorns’ investigation into Riley’s behavior in 2015, saying Courage exercised due diligence and was “subsequently assured that he was in good standing”. Washington CEO and majority owner Steve Baldwin has resigned, and Spirit players called on him to sell his stake in the club to minority owner Y. Michele Kang.
(This story has been updated in the sixth paragraph to include comments from RealResponse.)