Timbers sponsor KeyBank redirects funding to women’s sport Thorns

The sponsorship fallout continues for Portland’s NWSL and MLS franchises following the release of US Soccer’s report into alleged abuse in the women’s league.

KeyBank, which has been a sponsor of the MLS club but not the NWSL club, said in a statement on Friday that it was in talks with the two clubs to “redirect sponsorship from the Timbers to the Thorns”.

Additionally, in 2023, the banking company “will use money previously dedicated to sponsoring Timbers to invest in programs that support young women in sports in the Portland community.”

The Portland Thorns were one of three teams at the center of the US Soccer report, which detailed allegations of sexual abuse and coercion against former coach Paul Riley during his time with the team. Riley was fired in 2015 following the allegations, but the club kept the reason for his exit a secret.

Following the report, PTFC, the parent organization of Thorns and Timbers, fired football president Gavin Wilkinson and president of business operations Mike Golub. Owner Merritt Paulson has resigned as CEO of the Thorns and Timbers.

Star player Sophia Smith noted on Monday that the organization appears to be moving in the right direction, saying the staff “listened to the players”.

In the fallout from the report, several sponsors threatened to withdraw dollars from the club, while others, such as Alaska Airlines, redirected sponsorship dollars to the NWSLPA fund.

KeyBank joins the list of companies to change their sponsorship following the report.

“Our goal is to create a sponsorship deal that directly benefits Thorns players and provides opportunities for women in football,” KeyBank’s statement read.

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