Former Utah Royals coach faces new allegations after release of joint investigation into women’s soccer league

The new report comes just months after former AG Sally Yates’ investigation into the NWSL.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Royals FC owner Dell Loy Hansen, left, shakes hands with his new head coach, former Chicago Red Stars assistant Craig Harrington during a press event at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

Former Utah Royals FC coach Craig Harrington is facing more allegations of inappropriate behavior during his time in the National Women’s Soccer League after a new investigative report was released Wednesday.

The report, which comes just months after an initial report into the league by former attorney general Sally B. Yates, cites two players who said Harrington, while “intoxicated,” made comments about cheating on his wife and about players’ appearances.

The professional women’s soccer world was rocked in October when Yates’ report revealed “systemic” abuse and misconduct involving multiple teams in the NWSL. The investigation detailed allegations against former Royals FC owner Dell Loy Hansen and Harrington, the team’s former coach.

On Wednesday, a new report released the results of a 14-month investigation into NWSL. The investigation was initiated by the league and its players’ union. In the 125-page report, new details surfaced regarding Harrington and his time with the Royals and the Chicago Red Stars.

The Yates report detailed allegations made against Harrington when he coached the Royals before his firing just nine months into the job. Those allegations involved him contributing to the “toxic” environment on the team by making “inappropriate, sexualized jokes and comments to staff.”

Wednesday’s report goes further on Harrington’s behavior, though it’s unclear whether it deals with just his time with the Royals or includes his time as an assistant with the Chicago Red Stars from 2018-2019.

The new report details the following allegations:

• One player recalled Harrington saying, on multiple occasions in front of players, “I need to have sex with someone tonight who’s not my wife.”

• Two other players said Harrington told a player he wondered what her hair looks like when she gets out of the shower.

• Another player said Harrington made other comments about players’ appearances and bodies, including their breasts. She recalled him commenting that some players had “good bodies” but “unattractive” faces, and he would refer to those players as “butterfaces” or “shrimpheads.”

Harrington, the report says, denied making the comments. He further stated he “never” made comments about players’ appearances or “sexualized” players.

According to the report, players also alleged of a time when an intoxicated Harrington attempted to enter the hotel room of two players after he and several players went out drinking. One player who answered the door said she and her roommate did not want to go out again, and “shoved him out” when he tried to enter, the report states.

Harrington told investigators a different story, saying a player either called or texted him asking for help taking a drunk player to their room, according to the report. The player denied calling from the coach, saying he “was never the one called to come assist.” She did say she asked a female staffer for help, and Harrington “was also there,” the report states.

Harrington said “with 100% certainty” that he “never [did] and would never enter a player’s room.”

Although Harrington denied the allegations against him, the report states that “the Joint Investigative Team did not find his denials to be credible when viewed against the accounts of multiple other witnesses.”

Harrington started as the Royals coach in advance of the 2020 season, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was placed on administrative leave prior to the opening game of the NWSL Challenge Cup after allegations surfaced from The Athletic that he made multiple inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to staff.

After his firing from the Royals, Harrington took a job coaching Club América Femenil, a women’s professional team in Mexico. He was fired in May, and is now the vice president of Global Data Scouting, per his LinkedIn page.