LOUDON, Va. (WDVM) – First reported by The Washington Post, several former players have accused former Washington Spirit Head Coach, Richie Burke, of verbal, and emotional abuse.
On Tuesday, the club announced Burke would step down from his position as Head Coach, and move into a different role with the front office; citing health concerns.
Former Spirit player, Kaiya McCullough, and three other players under the condition of anonymity; revealed details of verbal abuse, including racially insensitive comments made by the former coach.
“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.” said McCullough, in the Washington Post report by Molly Hensley-Clancy.
“He made me hate soccer.” McCullough added.
On Wednesday morning, the Washington Spirit announced they have suspended Burke, pending investigation; in response to the Washington Post report.
“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.”, said Spirit Owner Steve Baldwin in his statement.
Burke had been Washington’s coach since 2018 and led the squad to a 5-3-5 record to begin the 2021 season.