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Houston dash suspends head coach James Clarkson, citing ongoing investigation into discrimination and abuse claims


The decision comes at the recommendation of a joint investigative team from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and NWSL Players Association that is conducting an ongoing investigation into misconduct and policy violations within the league.

In October, the NWSL agreed to demands from the NWSLPA to conduct a joint investigation into current or past complaints of discrimination, harassment, abuse or bullying within all 12 NWSL teams. Immediate suspension of “any person in a position of power” under investigation for possible abuse was part of the players’ union’s demands.

Clarkson’s suspension is effective immediately and the team said it will name an interim head coach in the coming days. An ultimate decision on his position with the Dash will be made once final results of the investigation are available, the team said.

The statement did not give details about any allegations involving Clarkson. CNN has been unable to reach Clarkson or his representatives for comment.

Clarkson’s suspension and the league-wide investigation follows a difficult season for NWSL during which several coaches resigned or were dismissed due to misconduct allegations.
Following the firing of North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley in October amid accusations of sexual coercion, which Riley has denied, the NWSL Players Association organized acts of solidarity on the field and released a list of demands in an effort to create “systematic transformation” within the league.

“Tonight, we reclaim our place on the field, because we will not let our joy be taken from us,” NWSLPA said when announcing moments of silence that would be observed during a series of October games.

“Players made a promise to ourselves and future generations to transform our League — not through words, but with our actions,” NWSLPA Executive Director Meghann Burke said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

In light of Clarkson’s suspension and the ongoing investigation into him, the Dash said it has made counseling available to any members of the organization who may need it.

“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 Dash statement said.

Clarkson was named head coach of Houston Dash in December 2018 after spending more than a decade with the men’s youth soccer training program Houston Dynamo Academy.

CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.


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