PORTLAND, Ore. — Major League Soccer (MLS) has fined the Portland Timbers $25,000 following the conclusion of an investigation into the club's handling of a domestic violence incident involving former midfielder Andy Polo last year.
The MLS report, released on Tuesday, concluded that the team should have reported the incident to MLS promptly and failed to do so. However, the failure was due to "a lack of an understanding of the MLS Constitution, rather than an intent to conceal the incident," according to the report.
"... prompt reporting is critical to League oversight, addressing potential misconduct, and ensuring that players and their families are referred to appropriate resources, including potentially the League’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program," MLS wrote in a press release.
However, the investigation did not substantiate allegations from Polo's estranged wife, Genessis Alarcon, that Timbers representatives pressured her to refrain from pressing criminal charges against Polo in the weeks after the May 23 incident.
The club's offer to assist Alarcon and her children "was not intended to induce, and did not induce, Ms. Alarcon to refrain from pursuing criminal charges," MLS wrote in the press release.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Timbers said the club acknowledges and accepts the findings of the investigation.
"For the past several months, the club has put in diligent work to enact a set of programs designed to improve our accountability, equity and engagement. The full set of action items will be unveiled in the coming days." the club wrote. "We strive to be a club this city and our supporters can be proud of. We have more than a decade of outstanding work in the community and off the pitch of which we are extremely proud. However, we are not perfect and will make mistakes occasionally. When that happens, corrections will be made, and we will learn from them."
The funds collected from the fine will be donated to to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the league said.
The Timbers terminated Polo's contract on Feb. 10 after Alarcon accused him on Peruvian television of having physically and emotionally abused her and their children. Major League Soccer also announced that it would suspend Polo pending the outcome of an independent investigation into the allegations.
In a statement on Feb. 10, the Timbers said the club had been aware of a dispute between Polo and Alarcon on May 23 of last year, which resulted in the Washington County Sheriff's Office citing him for harassment, but the citation was not subsequently pursued by the victim or the prosecutor's office.
"We deeply regret not suspending Polo immediately, especially considering the troubling new details of abuse that surfaced this week," the club said in a statement on Feb 10. "It was a failure on our part, and one that will never happen again."
Polo subsequently posted a statement on Instagram disputing the abuse allegations and saying the TV program Alarcon spoke to did not try to contact him to corroborate his version of the story. The post later appeared to have been deleted.
Alarcon filed a domestic violence complaint against Polo in U.S. District Court earlier this month, and she subsequently made the allegations about the Timbers pressuring her to not pursue criminal charges. The team denied doing so.
The MLS press release and the full report can be viewed here.