Houston Dash Won't Face Punishment for Alleged Racial Profiling of Sarah Gorden

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMay 4, 2021

Chicago Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden (11) runs upfield during an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
Matt Patterson/Associated Press

An independent investigation into alleged racial profiling at a Houston Dash game in early April has officially been closed, and no disciplinary action will be taken against the club, the NWSL announced Tuesday. 

After an April 9 match between the Chicago Red Stars and the Dash, Chicago defender Sarah Gorden said her boyfriend, who is Black, was confronted by security guards and threatened with arrest when he went to the field level following the game. Gorden said none of the white players or their families, who had also come down to the field, were given similar warnings. 

Sarah Gorden @sarahlgorden

At first I didn’t realize this was a racial issue until I saw white @HoustonDash players surrounding the stadium talking closely to their family and we were the only ones targeted

Sarah Gorden @sarahlgorden

This is just another reason why we kneel.

Citing confidentiality restrictions of existing policies, the ​NWSL did not provide specific findings or conclusions from the investigation.

"The NWSL remains committed to fostering a safe work environment for players and staff, free from harassment, racial bias and discrimination of any kind," the league said in the statement. "And as previously announced is developing mandatory, league-wide training to support that commitment."

Chicago assistant coach Scott Parkinson tweeted a statement on April 10 with further details from his perspective. He explained one of the Red Stars players approached him during Gorden's interaction with the guard, fearing for the safety of her and her family. 

"It seemed to me that Sarah and her three Black friends were the only ones being addressed in this way and it was extremely upsetting," Parkinson said, adding he confronted the guard as well. "... In that moment, my instincts told me they were being unfairly treated because of the color of their skin." 

In their own April 10 statement, the Dash apologized to Gorden and the Red Stars, explaining the guard was "entirely focused on COVID safety" and they would take steps to address the team's current policies. 

Gorden alleged that was not the case, as she noted no other families were bothered on the field. 

The NWSL's Anti-Harassment Policy for a Safe Work Environment "strictly prohibits any and all forms of harassment and discrimination by or against players and other NWSL personnel," including third parties such as team operators, medical staff, league partners or sponsors. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Gorden had not commented on the league's findings or the decision not to take any disciplinary action.