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  • Writer's pictureWomen's Sports Exchange

The Washington Spirit Is the NWSL’s Worst Run Club And It’s Not a Contest.


WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: A red soccer corner flag with the Washington Spirit shield logo on it is shown in close up during the NWSL game between Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit August 22, 2021 at Audi Field in Washington, DC (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In 2018, Steve Baldwin bought a major stake in the Washington Spirit.


In 2019, Richie Burke was hired as the Washington Spirit’s head coach.


Now, in 2021, Burke is being investigated for emotional and verbal abuse against his players. Now, in 2021, Baldwin covered up the ultimate firing of Burke by releasing a statement saying that Burke has stepped down, citing health issues. It was said that once Burke regained his health, he would assume a role in the front office of the club. Now, in 2021, Spirit supporters and fans all over the league have called for Baldwin to sell the team, with a petition created to make the ownership of the club public. Now, in 2021, games against the Portland Thorns and OL Reign have been cancelled due to breaches in health protocols, with both teams being awarded the three points with automatic 3-0 losses tacked onto the Spirit’s record.


The lack of a COVID vaccine mandate epitomises the disarray this club is in. And all of the blame should be pointed to the man who owns the club.


According to the Washington Post, an investigation run by the NWSL has “widened to include allegations of a toxic work culture for female employees”. Several employees have also told investigators about misogynistic comments and “degrading nicknames for female players and staff by a top executive”. Several former players have left the club due to these circumstances. Even though these allegations have fairly recently come to light under a broader spectrum, this toxic culture has been going on for at least two years.


“One former player, Kaiya McCullough, told The Post in August that she was verbally abused by Burke, the former coach. Those allegations, which were echoed by other former players, triggered the NWSL probe.”


The players—unfortunately—aren’t the only members of the club that are victims of abuse. A total of six women not on the players’ roster have left the club in recent months.


Baldwin has also done whatever it takes to diminish his co-owner Michele Kang’s position in charge. He is “excluding her from club announcements and attempting to prevent her from speaking with staff”.


Despite the good that Baldwin brought with him when he bought his controlling share of the team in 2018—including drafting and/or trading for a young and talented core group of players and taking the team from two wins a season to challenging for top spots in the league—the damage is insurmountable.


Sell the team, Steve.



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