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  • Erica Blackburn

Washington Spirit coach has resigned

A day after announcing former Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke would resign from his managerial duties citing health issues. The National Women’s Soccer League club announced today that Burke has been suspended pending an investigation in response to a news report alleging abusive behavior by Burke toward current and former players.

The Spirit issued a statement following their dismissal of Burke on Wednesday.

“On the heels of our announcement yesterday that Coach Burke was resigning, a Washington Post reporter contacted the Spirit with allegations of mistreatment—verbal and emotional abuse leveled at players—by Coach Burke," team owner Steve Baldwin said. "We take these allegations very seriously and are undertaking an immediate investigation."

"Burke has been suspended pending the investigation and is prohibited from contacting players and staff and our facilities. We, as a team, will not tolerate any situation for our players and staff that is less than professional. Our athletes, and all of those who support them, deserve the absolute best.”

Four players have left the Spirit over the last two years due to their treatment from Burke, according to the Washington Post report. Former Spirit player Kaiya McCullough said that Burke not only screamed at her constantly during training sessions but also made racially insensitive jokes toward her.

"I was 100 percent in a situation where I was being emotionally abused by Richie," McCullough told Hensley-Clancy. "He created this environment where I knew I wasn’t playing as well, because I was so, so scared to mess up and be yelled at. It crippled my performance, and it made me super anxious.""He made me hate soccer.”

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