Steve Baldwin, the controlling owner of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, informed the club’s other investors on Thursday of his intention to sell his stake, sources confirmed to ESPN.
The Washington Post was the first to report Baldwin’s plans.
Baldwin has been under pressure by players to sell his shares to fellow owner Y. Michele Kang ever since reports emerged that former manager Richie Burke verbally abused players, as well as a separate report detailing how a toxic culture permeated much of the organization.
A source told ESPN that Baldwin communicated via email to the other investors that he hoped to sell the team by the end of the year, though he didn’t name a specific individual or group that would be willing to buy the team.
The Post reported that in the email, Baldwin said: “I have heard the calls for change. I understand that many of our fans, players, and investors feel that the club requires new leadership, direction, and energy. And I agree.”
Baldwin, who has owned the Spirit since 2019, has been locked in a battle with Kang over control of the Spirit. According to the Washington Post, an apparent agreement for Baldwin to sell his stake to Kang fell only for him to change his mind. Baldwin had stated earlier that he would step away from his roles as CEO and managing partner, though at the time he made no mention of selling his stake.
The NWSL is currently investigating the Spirit over the allegations surrounding Burke and the team’s workplace culture.
The upheaval comes amid a league-wide reckoning over abuse claims made against coaches and executives. Overall, four coaches have either been fired or forced to resign, including former NC Courage manager Paul Riley, who was fired following allegations of sexual coercion made by two former players from the Portland Thorns.
FIFA, the U.S. Soccer Federation, the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association are all conducting investigations into the allegations of abuse that have surfaced in the last month.