NEW YORK – The National Women’s Soccer League announced an update regarding investigations into allegations of misconduct within Portland Thorns FC and the Washington Spirit organizations.
Portland Thorns FC
In early November 2022, Portland Thorns leadership reported to the NWSL player concerns about an incident in which assistant coach Sophie Clough made a player feel uncomfortable by kissing her neck at the team’s championship celebration in Washington, D.C. The league engaged a third-party attorney to investigate allegations of this inappropriate and unwanted physical contact with a player. During the investigation claims of bullying behavior by Clough were also raised. Following a thorough investigation, it was found that the claims of unwanted contact were substantiated in violation of league policy. Regarding the claims of bullying behavior, the third-party investigator found that the reports were unsubstantiated and Clough did not exceed the bounds of appropriate coaching.
Additionally, in late November 2022, Dr. Breanne Brown, the Thorns’ team physician, reported concerns to the team’s general manager about player safety following events that took place during the 2022 NWSL playoffs which were, in turn, reported by Portland Thorns leadership to the league. The league engaged a third-party attorney to investigate these allegations.
Dr. Brown reported that Portland’s athletic trainer, Pierre Soubrier, told her he had given two players a medication that contained codeine at the Thorns’ October 22, 2022 semifinal. Codeine is a controlled substance that requires a prescription and should only be administered by a physician. Dr. Brown also self-reported concerns about her own conduct related to the administration of controlled substances. Due to the imminent risk to player health and safety, the league placed Soubrier on paid administrative leave, effective December 7, 2022 pending the outcome of the league’s investigation by a third-party attorney.
The investigator found that the concerns about Soubrier were substantiated. Soubrier was found to have administered the controlled substance to the players on multiple occasions without a prescription and physician supervision which is a violation of federal and state laws and league policy. Further, Soubrier administered the medication to one of the players without her informed consent.
As self-reported by Dr. Brown, the investigator…