Last month, the NWSL’s Washington Spirit named former D.C. United player, coach, and executive Ben Olsen president. Now, there could be a shift in ownership, as co-owner Y. Michele Kang is calling on majority owner and CEO Steve Baldwin to step down.
Baldwin’s leadership looked promising in 2019 when he said professional women’s soccer players should be paid more than men and predicted the NWSL could reach $30 million to $50 million in annual sponsorships.
A recent investigation by the league into multiple allegations of verbal abuse by the team’s former coach Richie Burke turned into a wider discussion between female employees about a misogynistic workplace.
- The team has lost 40% of its female staff listed on its website since the start of the season.
- Late last week, fans launched a protest, limiting “game day activities” until there is new ownership.
Baldwin reportedly told Kang in August that he would sell his stake to her but has since changed his mind.
Kang bought a stake in the team last year, adding to the Spirit’s list of prominent stakeholders including Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush Hager, and Briana Scurry, the former U.S. women’s goalkeeper. Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin became an investor in May.
The growing number of investors comes as the league experiences a spike in popularity — by the end of the 2020 season, there was a 500% jump in TV viewership.