Portland Thorns owner to sell NWSL team but keep MLS’ Portland Timbers

Portland Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson said his company, Peregrine Sports, plans to sell the National Women’s Soccer League club following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse, led by former U.S. Attorney Sally Yates, that revealed the organization did not cooperate with the investigation and that senior team officials failed to act on other alleged abuses going back nearly a decade.

‘The past year has been a challenging one for our Club and our players. I regret the role our organization played in the failures identified by the investigations,’ Paulson said in a statement. ‘Despite these challenges, the Portland Thorns have a bright future ahead and a lot left to accomplish.

‘To fully realize that potential, I believe it is in best interest of the Thorns to have a new owner so that the Club can operate at the league level with a fresh voice to be a driving force for the NWSL. This has been a difficult decision for me, but I believe this is the best way to position the Thorns for continued success during this next chapter of the NWSL and the sport.’

WHAT WE KNOW: Investigation finds ‘systemic’ abuse of players, while NWSL, USSF stayed silent

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The Thorns defeated the Kansas City Current 2-0 on Oct. 29 to win their third NWSL Championship. 

Paulson, who still owns the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, said he is a pledging $1 million to create a NWSL Player Safety Office.

‘I support Merritt Paulson’s decision to sell the Thorns, his commitment to aid in a smooth transition for a new ownership group in Portland, and the $1M contribution to the league,’  National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. ‘This money will be used to launch a new NWSL Player Safety Department – coming out of this chapter in the NWSL’s history we will emerge stronger than ever before and make this a league the players are proud to play in.

‘The Thorns, its players, its dedicated fanbase and the entire Portland community have played a key role in our league’s first decade and are critically important to the future success of the NWSL. We will continue to work collaboratively to ensure the players and the club have everything they need to be successful on and off the pitch.’

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