Oct 5, 2021 - Sports

Washington Spirit CEO resigns amid NWSL turmoil

A red soccer corner flag is shown in close up during the NWSL game between Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit August 22, 2021 at Audi Field in Washington, DC

A red soccer corner flag with the Washington Spirit shield logo during an NWSL game between Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit on August 22, 2021 at Audi Field in Washington, DC. Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The CEO of NWSL's Washington Spirit resigned on Tuesday following abuse allegations against the team's former coach and criticism of a toxic work environment.

Why it matters: The resignation of Steve Baldwin, who served as controlling owner and top executive of the Washington women's soccer team, comes as NWSL players speak out about cases of harassment and abuse and demand change across the league.

  • The Spirit fired Richie Burke as the team's head coach last week over the abuse allegations.

Driving the news: "While there is a range of opinions on how we got here, and how to move forward, everyone—none more so than me—is committed to improving the club's culture, removing distractions and returning the focus to the players and the pursuit of a championship," Baldwin wrote in his resignation letter.

  • "With that goal in mind, and at the recent request of our players, I have decided to resign as CEO and Managing Partner of the Washington Spirit, effective immediately."
  • Players wrote a letter to Baldwin asking for his resignation, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: The North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley last week over allegations of sexual coercion, which spans across multiple teams and go back more than a decade, Axios' Kendall Baker reports.

  • The league-wide reckoning caused all NWSL games to be cancelled this weekend, and then-commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down from her role.
  • The NWSL also now faces investigation and potential sanctions from both FIFA's judicial bodies and U.S. Soccer.

Go deeper: NWSL commissioner resigns amid sexual harassment, abuse scandal

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