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Houston Dash suspend head coach following investigation into abuse

English-born James Clarkson has held the position at the NWSL side since December 2018.

James Clarkson.
James Clarkson.
Image: Diego Diaz

US WOMEN’S FOOTBALL club Houston Dash have suspended their head coach and general manager, James Clarkson, with immediate effect. 

The announcement comes following the initial findings from a joint National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSLPA) investigation into “current and historic complaints of discrimination, harassment and abuse”.

English-born Clarkson, 50, was appointed to the role ahead of the 2019 season, replacing current Ireland women’s boss Vera Pauw. He had previously worked with the club’s academy for over a decade. 

It is the latest case of misconduct in the league, after North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley and Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke were sacked last year, which led to the resignation of NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.

Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames also resigned in November amid a raft of allegations. 

Dash say a final decision on Clarkson’s future will be made after the full investigation is completed, and they plan to appoint an interim head coach in the coming days.

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“As an organisation, 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,” their statement reads. 

“The club has made counselling services available to all members of the organisation interested.”

Irish internationals Denise O’Sullivan (2016-17) and Stephanie Roche (2015) have had spells at Houston Dash in the past.  

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