NWSL bans former Racing Louisville FC coach, issues fines in wake of abuse investigation

NWSL bans former Racing Louisville FC coach, issues fines in wake of abuse investigation
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 3:14 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The National Women’s Soccer League issued punishments and corrective action on Monday following an independent investigation into misconduct allegations against a number of women’s football clubs and coaches, including Racing Louisville FC and its former coach Christy Holly.

For many fans, Racing Louisville was a symbol of pride.

“Racing Louisville is so good for the city, these women are icons and role models,” Catherine Greene, a member of LouCity Ladies said. “I loved taking little girls to the games so they could see themselves reflected on the field.”

But ever since the sex abuse scandal broke, some fans, can’t bring themselves to cheer for the club anymore.

“As much as it pains me to say it, I feel like our hometown, my hometown, doesn’t deserve a NWSL team if this is how we treat them,” Greene said.

Greene canceled her season tickets after she found out about the scandal.

“I mean, canceling the season tickets was a really hard decision, but I’m just so miserable,” Greene said. “I feel like soccer holdings have proven that we don’t deserve these women, we don’t deserve this team or these players

The Joint Investigation Team released their findings on Dec. 14, stating multiple failures across the league and U.S. Soccer were systemic in nature and made recommendations on structural reforms to address emotional abuse and sexual misconduct within the league.

On Monday, the NWSL issued a $200,000 fine to Racing Louisville FC and required the Louisville club to hire a sporting staff that is completely distinct from Louisville City FC, which it shares ownership with. Racing Louisville staff will be required to report directly into ownership.

In addition, Holly was one of four coaches who was issued a permanent ban from the NWSL, including former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley, former Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames and former Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke.

For Greene, it’s not enough.

“I think this is the bare minimum,” Greene said.

Greene believes everyone who contributed to creating an environment that allowed Holly to do what he did should also face consequences.

“He went to a team, he abused players, no one said anything,” Greene said. “He went to the next team, he abused more players. And the executives at Racing Louisville created a system where that could happen yet again

Racing Louisville FC was named in the initial investigation, stating Holly engaged in long-term sexual misconduct against a player and created a toxic environment through abuse of power and manipulative behavior.

Holly had been fired by Racing Louisville in Aug. 2021, but no reason was initially given in his firing.

Penalties were assigned to a tiered system, ranging from permanent bans to conditional future employment for coaches and staff, and organizational fines based on the severity of the misconduct and how the misconduct was handled.

NWSL’s League Office and U.S. Soccer will be fined at least $1 million as part of the corrective action.

“The league will continue to prioritize implementing and enhancing the policies, programs and systems that put the health and safety of our players first,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. “Those actions are fundamental to the future of our league, especially as we build a league that strengthens our players’ ability to succeed and prosper on and off the pitch. As part of our commitment to accountability and deterrence, the league has determined that further corrective action with respect to certain organizations and individuals identified in the Joint Investigative Report is appropriate and necessary.”

The NWSL said fines will be used to further systemic reform within the league and to positively impact the lives of players, including expanding mental health resources, positive culture building and enhancing coaching education and development.