RSL executive Andy Carroll takes leave of absence after allegations of sexism, workplace misconduct surface

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake Chief Financial Officer Andy Carroll, shown here on Thursday, March 5, 2020, says there are several significant updates to Rio Tinto Stadium coming not only this season, but also in the near future, that will enhance fan experience.

Andy Carroll, the chief business officer for Real Salt Lake, is taking a leave of absence effective immediately.

Allegations of sexist behavior and other types of workplace misconduct surfaced Sunday in a story from RSL Soapbox. Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League have launched investigations into those allegations, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.

Utah Soccer — the holding company that includes RSL, the Utah Royals and Real Monarchs — said in a statement that the organization was “extremely disappointed” by the allegations, but also commended the executive for spending “notable time energy to further the business operations of the organization.”

“Still, Utah Soccer takes these allegations extremely seriously,” the organization said. “Utah Soccer prioritizes the safety, well-being, and security of its players and employees above all, and does not tolerate discriminatory or derogatory conduct of any kind. While Utah Soccer endeavors to learn more about the allegations raised in the article, Mr. Carroll will be taking a leave of absence from the organization until further notice.”

Major League Soccer said in a statement that it takes the allegations “very seriously” and has hired Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, a New York-based law firm, to look into the comments and conduct of both Carroll and Dell Loy Hansen. The league said the matters will be addressed promptly.

“We are deeply committed to maintaining an environment based on respect and integrity, free of discrimination in any form,” MLS said. “Our employees, clubs, players, and fans remain our top priority.”

The NWSL, through a spokesperson, called the allegations against Carroll “disturbing” and said it has retained a third-party, independent investigator to look into the matter “to ensure that positive, supportive and safe working conditions are the norm in the NWSL.”

“Racism, sexism and misogyny have no place in our society, and certainly have no place in the NWSL,” the spokesperson said.

The Tribune spoke to current and former employees of the RSL organization who gave accounts of Carroll berating employees; making disparaging comments about women, people of color, and potential business partners; and in some cases looking out for his own financial interests.

The current and former employees also described a workplace environment so tense that they felt a great sense of relief when Carroll wasn’t in the office. One former employee, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid repercussions, described Carroll as “horrific.”

“Every time I was in a meeting with him, he was mean to an employee,” the former employee said.

The employees also described a feeling that if they were to submit complaints to the human resources department about Carroll’s behavior, they would be disciplined or even fired. One person said the HR department knows “everything,” but nothing was ever done.

The Tribune confirmed many of the allegations originally brought forth in the RSL Soapbox article, including Carroll’s preference to use certain Utah Royals FC players in promotional material because he considered them more attractive.

Former Royals defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who was traded to Portland before the 2020 season, spoke out against the allegations of sexism specifically.

“Anyone else sick of this narrative? That a woman’s success can only be defined by what a man deems valuable? It’s bull----,” Sauerbrunn said on Twitter. “Our accomplishments are worthy of recognition, in and of themselves. Also, if you can’t ’sell’ excellence, can you actually sell anything?”

Carroll’s leave comes two days after Dell Loy Hansen announced his intention to sell Utah Soccer Holdings — which includes RSL, the Utah Royals, Real Monarchs and team facilities — after allegations surfaced of past racist comments. Hansen will also step down from the board of the Utah Sports Commission.

Carroll works directly under Hansen and is involved in various aspects of the organization. He has often defended the soon-to-be former owner when it comes to financial issues.

When criticism came about RSL pulling broadcasters off the road and no longer airing Royals game live on KMYU, he later countered by saying he felt proud of having an “effective, efficient” broadcast and touted how much money was spent bringing aboard a sideline reporter and building a new studio desk at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Earlier this year, Carroll spoke about the financial implications of having to furlough the staff, a move made by the organization due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the pandemic could cause financial problems that last well into next season.