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Oct. 5, 2022

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MLS concludes probe in Polo case, Timbers fined $25,000

Former midfielder was cited but never charge for domestic abuse

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An independent investigation into the Portland Timbers’ handling of domestic abuse accusations leveled at midfielder Andy Polo concluded that the team’s offers to help his estranged wife were not meant to persuade her to drop charges.

The investigation by the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP concluded the Timbers should have informed Major League Soccer when sheriff’s deputies were called to the Polo home in May 2021. The team was fined $25,000 for failing to report the incident. The investigation was commissioned by MLS and made public on Tuesday.

Polo was cited but never charged in the case and he denies Genessis Alarcon’s claims.

“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 Timbers said in a statement following the release of the report.

“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,” the statement says. “However, we are not perfect and will make mistakes occasionally. When that happens, corrections will be made, and we will learn from them.”

Polo’s contract was terminated by the league last month after Alarcon accused Polo of abuse on Peruvian television, and the incident report by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department surfaced.

The report obtained by The Associated Press said deputies were called to the Polo home on May 23, 2021, and Polo was cited for misdemeanor harassment for allegedly grabbing Alarcon by the wrist. The report said two representatives from the Timbers arrived while deputies were there.

Despite the incident, Polo’s contract with the Timbers was extended in December. Polo was paid in full following his dismissal from the team.

Following the deputies’ visit to the Polo home, the team offered to help Alarcon and her children in seeking housing and other services. Those offers were not “intended to induce, and did not induce” Alarcon to drop the charges against Polo, the investigation concluded.

Alarcon understood she would receive the assistance regardless of whether she pressed charges or not, the investigation concluded. She ultimately did not pursue charges.

“Although the investigation found no evidence that the Timbers organization influenced Ms. Alarcon’s decision to press charges and that they did not attempt to conceal the incident, 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,” the league said in a statement Tuesday.

Alarcon has filed a lawsuit against Polo in state court in Oregon. The lawsuit also names the parent company of the Timbers.

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