Portland Thorns fire head athletic coach, assistant coach following NWSL investigations into misconduct

The Portland Thorns have fired head athletic coach Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough following NWSL investigations into two separate incidents involving workers members, the crew introduced Tuesday.

Soubrier was investigated by the NWSL for giving remedy containing codeine to gamers on the crew’s semifinal playoff match in opposition to the San Diego Wave on Oct. 22. Clough was investigated for offering an undesirable kiss to a participant’s neck in the course of the NWSL championship celebration on Oct. 29. Both incidents had been self-reported by the Thorns to NWSL.

Claims in opposition to each Soubrier and Clough had been substantiated by NWSL investigators in violation of league coverage. The league beneficial one 12 months of unpaid go away for each Soubrier and Clough, however the membership went additional and terminated them.

“Portland Thorns FC stays dedicated to following all NWSL insurance policies,” the Thorns mentioned in an announcement offered to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The membership reported to the league and absolutely cooperated with the league’s investigation into the allegations of misconduct by head athletic coach Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough. Upon receiving the NWSL’s ultimate investigative findings, the membership has terminated the employment of each Soubrier and Clough. The well being and security of the gamers is our utmost precedence.”

Soubrier is the husband of Thorns midfielder Crystal Dunn and was employed because the crew’s head athletic coach in 2019. The NWSL additionally present in its investigation that crew physician Breanne Brown offered Soubrier with a separate managed substance at his request, however later felt uncomfortable with the choice and instructed Soubrier it shouldn’t be administered. The league discovered Dr. Brown didn’t violate the legislation or league coverage.

In the case of the remedy containing codeine, it was administered to 2 gamers together with one with out knowledgeable consent, the league discovered.

“Soubrier was discovered to have administered the managed substance to the gamers on a number of events with no prescription and doctor supervision which is a violation of federal and state legal guidelines and league coverage,” the league’s investigative report reads. “Further, Soubrier administered the remedy to one of many gamers with out her knowledgeable consent.”

Clough joined the membership as an assistant coach beneath Mark Parsons in 2016 and remained on the workers by means of coach Rhian Wilkinson’s lone season with the Thorns. Claims of bullying habits by Clough in the direction of gamers had been additionally investigated by NWSL however unsubstantiated.

Tuesday’s firings are the most recent chapter in a collection of scandals which have plagued the Thorns within the final 16 months, courting again to the revelation in 2021 that former coach Paul Riley allegedly sexually harassed and coerced former gamers Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly. Since then, the Thorns have confronted a number of investigations, fired executives Mike Golub and Gavin Wilkinson, received a NWSL championship and watched Rhian Wilkinson abruptly resign, all culminating with Merritt Paulson stepping away as CEO and later asserting that he would promote the Thorns.

Just final month, Rhian Wilkinson — who led the Thorns to a title in her first season as coach — resigned after an NWSL investigation cleared her of an alleged relationship with participant Emily Menges. The two expressed mutual romantic emotions for one another by way of textual content message.

The Thorns had been additionally fined $1 million by the NWSL for the membership’s function in Riley’s alleged abuse of gamers.

Paulson has not offered an replace on his efforts to promote the Thorns since asserting in December the membership could be offered.

— Ryan Clarke, rclarke@oregonian.com, Twitter: @RyanTClarke

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