Let’s talk about what happened in Portland.
Initially, Edmonds received a red card in the closing minutes of the game versus the Portland Thorns on Friday, April 9 for unsportsmanlike conduct. The NWSL Disciplinary Committee later reviewed the incident and determined Edmonds was in violation of Section 12.3.6, “Major Game Misconduct” of the League Operations Manual. An automatic fine and one-game suspension was also issued, and the committee sanctioned an additional one-game suspension to Edmonds. The disciplinary sanction could not be appealed.
How we got here
In the closing minutes of the first Challenge Cup game for both teams, Portland earned a throw in near the corner end line. It was immediately after the throw in that Edmonds and Thorns forwards Morgan Weaver and Tyler Lussi battled for the ball. The struggle only intensified between Edmonds and Weaver after the ball was cleared away by KC’s Raisa Strom-Okimoto. Weaver and Edmonds ended up on the ground on the sideline, and as Edmonds tried to run back into the game, she received a push by Weaver. Edmonds did not welcome the contact and responded by pushing Weaver away with hands to her face. Both players were ejected from the game with a red card.
Portland Thorns FC appealed the red card issued to forward Morgan Weaver, and the appeal was successful after review by the league’s Independent Review Panel, and all disciplinary actions were rescinded.
There is no justification for Edmonds’ actions or for Weaver’s, despite the NWSL rescinding her discipline. Both players are responsible for their actions.
There is also no room for a club to offer a verdict to defend its player. In a tweet now deleted, Portland claimed that Weaver was innocent. Thorns owner Merritt Paulson also offered a different video angle to defend Weaver. It’s troubling that a club would take extra measures to defend their player when the replay showed Weaver’s involvement. Sure, the NWSL ultimately decided that Weaver should not be held accountable, but the words Portland chose to use were also irresponsible and tweeted without thought.
Speaking of race and the #NWSL last night, I’ll add one thought: It is extremely poor optics for a club to tweet a picture of a BIPOC opponent physically retaliating against an “innocent” white player when video shows the white player instigated the “extracurricular” contact.
— Allison (Lee) Brown (@allibecc) April 10, 2021
Four days after the fact, the tweet has been deleted.
Also, a still image of the altercation, intentionally without context remains as their “photo of the night” on the Instagram page, for now. https://t.co/3VshadzulQ
— Jacob Cristobal (@jacobcristobal) April 13, 2021
Portland eventually also took responsibility for their tweets and social media involvement, and that’s the right thing to do.
Words matter, and humility when we’re wrong also goes a long way.