Houston Dash suspends coach James Clarkson, citing ongoing investigation into allegations of discrimination and abuse

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

In October, the League agreed to requests from the NWSLPA for a joint investigation into current or past complaints of discrimination, harassment, abuse, or bullying within all 12 NWSL teams. The immediate suspension of “anyone in a position of authority” was under investigation for possible abuse. Its use is part of the players’ union demands.

Clarkson’s suspension is effective immediately and the team said they will appoint an interim coach in the coming days. The team said a final decision on its position with Dash will be made once the final results of the investigation are available.

The statement did not provide details of any allegations related to Clarkson. CNN was unable to reach Clarkson or his representatives for comment.

Clarkson’s suspension and the league-wide investigation come on the heels of a difficult season for the NWSL in which several coaches have resigned or have been fired over allegations of misconduct.
After coach Paul Riley was fired at the North Carolina Courage in October amid accusations of sexual coercion, which Riley denied, the NWSL Players Association organized acts of solidarity on the field and issued a list of demands in an effort to create a “systemic shift” within the league.

“Tonight, we take back our place in the stadium, because we will not let our joy be taken away from us,” the association said when announcing the moments of silence that will be observed during the October series of games.

“The players made a promise to ourselves and future generations to transform our league – not through words, but through our actions,” NWSLPA Executive Director Megan Burke said in a statement Tuesday. “This shows that our joint investigation is doing the work of systemic transformation. Work is ongoing, and we commend the players for speaking out and speaking out.”

In light of Clarkson’s comment and the ongoing investigation, Dash said she made the advice available to any member of the organization who might need it.

“As an organisation, our highest priority is to create and maintain a safe and respectful work environment for our players and staff, which we believe is critical to our success on the field,” Dash’s statement said.

Clarkson was appointed head coach of the Houston Dash in December 2018 after spending more than a decade with the youth football coaching program at the Houston Dynamo Academy.

CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.

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