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NWSL

Houston Dash coach James Clarkson suspended amid NWSL abuse investigation

12:05 PM WAT 27/04/2022
James Clarkson Houston Dash 2021
The news was announced on Tuesday, just two days after Clarkson had taken charge of the Dash's final NWSL Challenge Cup fixture

The Houston Dash has suspended head coach and general manager James Clarkson.

The suspension is “in light of initial findings, received this week, from the joint NWSL and NWSL Players' Association investigation that was launched last year to review current and historic complaints of discrimination, harassment and abuse”, the club said.

It is effective immediately, with the Dash to name an interim head coach “in the coming days” ahead of the new NWSL season, which begins on Saturday, April 30.

Why has James Clarkson been suspended?

The Dash released the following statement on Tuesday: “The Houston Dash announced today that it has suspended head coach and general manager James Clarkson, effective immediately.

“The suspension comes in light of initial findings, received this week, from the joint NWSL and NWSLPA investigation that was launched last year to review current and historic complaints of discrimination, harassment and abuse.

“An ultimate decision about Clarkson's future with the Dash will be made based on the final results of the ongoing investigation. As an organization, our highest priority is creating and maintaining a safe and respectful work environment for our players and staff, which we believe is critical to our success on the pitch. The club has made counseling services available to all members of the organization interested.

“The club will name an interim head coach in the coming days. To preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation, the club cannot comment further at this time.”

Clarkson was appointed by the Dash in late 2018, having previously worked with the Houston Dynamo and its affiliate club, Brazos Valley Cavalry. He coached the club to the Challenge Cup title in 2020.

What has the NWSL said about Clarkson’s suspension?

This news follows an incredible season of upheaval last year in the NWSL, during which five coaches departed their positions due to allegations of misconduct.

Clarkson was the only coach in charge of an NWSL club at the beginning of the 2021 season that was still in their position at the beginning of 2022.

NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said: “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.

“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.”

Meghann Burke, the executive director of the NWSL Players’ Association, added: “Players made a promise to ourselves and future generations to transform our League – not through words, but with our actions.

“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 NWSL also announced that, during this process, player protections in the NWSL policy to prevent and eliminate workplace discrimination, harassment, and bullying had been “expanded”.

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