LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Washington Spirit just added to Washington D.C.'s resume as the District of Champions. The Spirit won 2-1 over the Chicago Red Stars to score their first National Women's Soccer League championship.
The Spirit is the 5th professional sports team from the district to win a title since 2018. The Spirit played Chicago three previous times, losing two and a draw.
This is the first professional women's soccer title for a Washington D.C. team in 18 years in the Women's United Soccer Association era. The Washington Freedom won the WUSA championship at RFK Stadium in 2003. It was a team that included Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Steffi Jones, and Siri Mullinix.
The Spirit's road to the title game was far from smooth. The team dealt with turmoil on and off the field; they fired their former coach Richie Burke after allegations of verbal and emotional abuse towards the Spirit players. "We deserve [to win this championship], especially after this year, and the city deserves it too," said Spirit midfielder Chinyelu Asher said before the championship match.
The investigation by NWSL was hinged on an alleged toxic environment under former head coach Richie Burke's leadership, featuring multiple allegations of verbal abuse and racist comments made by Burke and directed at players, according to a report by the Washington Post that was released in September.
In addition, according to the Post, the investigation found Spirit executives knew how Burke was allegedly treating players -- and didn't report him. The club created a culture that stopped players and employees from speaking out, the report said. Burke is now banned from working with any other players in the league.
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