Report: Washington Spirit Co-Owner Steve Baldwin to Sell Stake Amid NWSL Scandal
Washington Spirit co-owner Steve Baldwin told investors that he plans to sell his stake in the club, per an email obtained by the Washington Post.
“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 wrote in the email.
A specific buyer was not named nor did the email say that one had been chosen. Instead, he wrote “a sale process for the club has commenced in earnest.”
The move comes less than a week after The Athletic reported that he made and then rescinded an offer to fellow co-owner, Y. Michele Kang. Per The Athletic, Baldwin's offer to Kang was "at an overall $22 million valuation." Sources told the outlet that she was ready to write the check.
Spirit players previously called for Baldwin to sell the team to her hours after he announced his plan to resign from his roles as the CEO and managing partner.
This comes as the club and league face widespread turmoil. Washington announced last month it had fired coach Richie Burke for cause after he was initially suspended for allegations of verbal and emotional abuse in August. According to the Post, the league's investigation into Burke expanded to allegations by several female employees of a toxic “old boys’ club” culture, which included a male executive using degrading nicknames for female players.
The coach was reportedly fired for creating a toxic work culture for female employees and harassment, per a Post investigation. In the report, former players said Burke “made racially insensitive jokes” and described him as being “unbelievably volatile.”
Kang then wrote a letter on Sept. 27 to other team investors calling on Baldwin to step down and sell Kang his shares. “It is time for the Spirit to turn the page on this sad chapter in its history and bring in new leadership to chart a new path,” Kang wrote. Players later voiced their agreement, saying that Kang is who they trust as she "continuously puts players' needs and interests first."
Per the Post, Baldwin wrote the sale "should be completed by the end of the year."