Major League Soccer has launched a review into the Portland Timbers‘ handling of the domestic violence allegations against midfielder Andy Polo, the league confirmed to ESPN in a statement Friday.
A report from The Athletic added that the Timbers didn’t notify MLS of last year’s domestic violence incident at Polo’s home, as is customary in these types of situations. In May, police were called to Polo’s residence in Oregon, and Timbers employees also responded and spoke to officers there.
When Polo’s ex-partner went public with allegations last week, Polo was suspended and then had his contract terminated by MLS and the Timbers.
“Following the allegations made last week against Andy Polo, Major League Soccer promptly launched a review into the decisions that the Portland Timbers made in response to the charges brought against the player last May,” the statement read. “The Timbers are committed to this review and have pledged their full cooperation.”
An MLS spokesman added that the league has “engaged an outside law firm to conduct the review.”
The Timbers also released the following statement: “The Portland Timbers welcome Major League Soccer’s review into the handling of the May 2021 Andy Polo complaint and will cooperate fully.”
The allegations of physical and emotional abuse were made by Polo’s former partner, Génessis Alarcón, on a Peruvian television show last week. Alarcón is also the mother of his children.
“He pulled my hair. I fell to the floor,” Alarcón said. “He slapped me in the face and gave me a black eye.”
Alarcón also said that Polo had failed to pay child support. An incident report from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department dated May 23, 2021 revealed that Polo was “issued a citation in lieu of arrest for harassment after grabbing onto Genesis Charlott Alacon[sic] Dorival’s wrist.”
The citation is classified as a B misdemeanor. In the report, it said that a friend of Alarcón’s called police stating that her friend’s husband was hitting her. Two deputies arrived and separately began interviewing Polo and Alarcón. When the police arrived, the report says that Alarcón “seemed to be frantic, scared and stressed” and that the children looked frightened. The report adds that Alarcón said that in an attempt to get a cell phone out of her hand, “Andy reached out and grabbed her right wrist and scratched it. She showed me the underside of her right wrist and I saw what appeared to be a light red abrasion.”
The report goes on to detail that two Timbers employees, Gabriel Jaimes, the team’s head of players affairs, and Jim McCausland, the team’s head of security, later arrived at the residence. According to the responding officer, “[McCausland] told me he would make sure that peace would be maintained inside the house,” the report said. “He said if he needed to move Andy or Genesis out of the home to maintain safety and security, he would take care of it. He assured me no further incidents would take place.”
It is unclear if McCausland and Jaimes informed their superiors about the incident, but the league’s constitution states that among the violations of the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health policy, or SABH, is “domestic violence.” It is not clear what the threshold is for teams to report such violations to the league.
The Polo allegations and investigation follow another abuse scandal within the same club on the women’s side with the Portland Thorns. In September, two former Thorns players publicly accused former coach Paul Riley of coercing a player into having sex with him and sending lewd photos to another, along with verbal abuse, anti-gay comments and other inappropriate behavior.
One of the players, Mana Shim, had reported Riley’s behavior to the Timbers front office in 2015. Riley quietly left the club and was quickly re-hired by another team in the National Women’s Soccer League, prompting backlash and protests from fans who say the club should’ve done more to protect players.
The Thorns vowed an independent investigation of their handling of Shim’s complaint but closed it without interviewing any players so other investigations could take precedence. An investigation commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation is being led by former acting attorney general Sally Yates while the NWSL Players Association is leading another with the league. They are both ongoing.