An executive from Peruvian club Universitario Deportes says former Portland Timbers midfielder Andy Polo has been paid in full by Major League Soccer and the Timbers, despite the MLS club saying his contract had been terminated last month, and that MLS had asked Polo not to sue the league because he was fired without cause.
On February 10, the Timbers said Polo’s contract had been terminated by the club following domestic violence allegations brought against him by his estranged wife, Génesis Alarcón. She has since filed a domestic violence lawsuit against Polo in U.S. District Court in Oregon.
In a March 9 interview with ESPN, Alarcón said that two weeks after a domestic violence incident on May 23, 2021, she met with two Timbers representatives who tried to pressure her not to press charges. Neither Alarcón nor the Washington County prosecutor decided to pursue the case.
Earlier this week, Polo officially signed with Universitario, the same club where he made his professional debut aged 16. Universitario revealed on Wednesday that Polo had 15 days to resolve his legal issues with his estranged wife, and that was a condition of his contract.
Giancarlo Mandriotti, Universitario’s legal and corporate director, said Wednesday that Polo was paid in full by MLS when his contract ended.
“The club has decided to withdraw him [Polo] due to media impact and after relationship [between Polo and Portland] is broken down. MLS asked Andy not to sue them because there was no reason to do so,” Mandriotti said.
MLS is investigating the Timbers’ handling of the situation and the club’s failure to report it to the league until Alarcón’s allegations became public.
A spokesperson for MLS issued the following statement to ESPN on Wednesday: “Upon learning of the domestic violence allegations against Andy Polo, Major League Soccer and the Portland Timbers determined that his conduct did not represent the values of the league or from the club and promptly fired Mr. Polo’s playing contract.
“MLS’ priority was (1) to separate Mr. Polo from the club and (2) to ensure that the league was able to conduct a thorough and fair investigation into the conduct of the club. Following the player’s dismissal, the MLS Players Association filed a grievance challenging the termination of Mr. Polo’s contract.
“The league has determined that it is appropriate to settle the grievance and focus on the league’s investigation. Any further comment will be reserved until the release of the MLS investigation report which will be released shortly.”
In a redacted separation agreement dated Feb. 24 obtained by ESPN on Wednesday night, Polo is ordered to “fully and finally resolve all disputes or potential disputes” with MLS and the Timbers in exchange for a financial settlement. The amount paid to Polo is also redacted.
According to data from the MLS Players Association, Polo earned $500,000 last year. His contract option was later taken over by the Timbers last December, following the alleged domestic violence incident at Polo’s home in May.
There was considerable backlash to his signing in Peru, with the Peruvian Ministry for Women and Vulnerable Populations issuing a statement in fierce opposition to Universitario signing Polo.
“Being a footballer, an athlete or being famous should never be used as a pretext to justify, condone and normalize violence against women,” the ministry said. said in a statement in Spanish. “We express our solidarity with Genesis Alarcon and her children. We reiterate the immediate availability of MIMP legal psychological services for your entire family.
“We urge the Universitario Sports Club to take immediate action in relation to the unfortunate situation of violence exposed yesterday in the media and which directly involves Andy Polo. An abusive man, an abusive husband and an abusive father must be punished. Parents should not promote violence, let alone in front of their daughters/sons.”
On May 23, 2021, Polo was cited by a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy for harassment. The citation is classified as a class B misdemeanor. In the deputy’s report, it is said that a friend of Alarcón called the police stating that her friend’s husband was hitting her. Two deputies arrived and began interrogating Polo and Alarcón separately. When police arrived, the report says Alarcón “appeared to be frantic, scared and stressed” and the children looked frightened.
The report adds that Alarcón said that in an attempt to pull a cell phone from her hands, “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 say that two Timbers employees, Gabriel Jaimes, the team’s player affairs manager, and Jim McCausland, the team’s security manager, later arrived at the residence. According to the responding officer, “[McCausland] told me he would make sure the peace was kept inside the house,” the report said. “He said if he needed to move Andy or Genesis out of the house to maintain security and safety he would take care of. He assured me that no further incident would take place.”
It’s unclear if McCausland and Jaimes have informed their superiors of the situation, but the league’s constitution states that among violations of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health policy is “domestic violence.” It’s also unclear what the threshold is for teams to report such violations to the league.
The domestic violence allegations against Polo and the ensuing investigation follow another case of abuse within the same organization with Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League. In September, two former Thorns players publicly accused former coach Paul Riley of coercing a player into having sex with him and sending obscene photos to another, as well as verbal abuse, comments anti-gay and other inappropriate behavior.
One of the players had reported Riley’s behavior to the Timbers front office in 2015. Riley quietly left the club and was soon rehired by another NWSL team, prompting backlash and protests from fans who say the club should have done more to protect. players.
The Timbers promised an independent investigation into their handling of the player’s complaint, but closed it without interviewing any players so that other investigations could take precedence. An investigation commissioned by the United States Soccer Federation is being led by Sally Yates, a former acting U.S. attorney general, while the NWSL Players Association is leading another with the league. Both are ongoing.