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NWSL hands lifetime bans to four former coaches and fines two teams $1 million or more

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) has handed lifetime bans to four former coaches and fined the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns $1.5 million and $1 million respectively, part of sweeping sanctions from a misconduct inquiry.

An independent investigator brought in by U.S. Soccer found last year that abuse and misconduct "had become systemic" in the NWSL.

A joint investigation unit for the league and their players association (NWSLPA) also said in December it found widespread, ongoing misconduct, a saga that engulfed the top-flight women's league and the sport's national governing body.

"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," Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement on Monday.

Former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly, Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames and Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke will each be subject to "permanent exclusion" from the league.

More than a half dozen other individuals' future employment with the NWSL is listed as "conditional."

Arnim Whisler, who owns the Red Stars, and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson have agreed to sell their teams.

Other sanctions include a $200,000 fine for Racing Louisville and a $100,000 fine for the Courage. The NWSL is compelling the owners of both teams to hire sporting staff that is "completely distinct" from their respective men's teams.

The NWSL said it determined how to assign penalties based on the severity of the misconduct and whether individuals in power were found to have known about the wrongdoing, among other factors.

"The league and its clubs have taken meaningful steps to begin this structural reform," said Berman.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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