The Red Stars are one of several teams continuing to navigate the fallout of an explosive investigation that uncovered systemic emotional abuse and sexual misconduct across the National Women’s Soccer League.
Last Wednesday, two days after the findings were released, Chicago’s board of directors voted to remove chairman Arnim Whisler due to his handling of complaints from players against former manager Rory Dames—one of the three coaches at the center of the allegations. The investigation was commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, and led by former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spalding.
On Monday, Red Stars players expressed their dismay over the allegations in a joint statement shared on social media by defender Tierna Davidson. The players also commended those who came forward and the role they played in exposing the league-wide issue.
“We, the players of the Chicago Red Stars, are incredibly saddened, infuriated, and appalled by the reprehensible findings of the Sally Yates report,” the statement began. “We first want to recognize the courageous individuals who bore the weight of sharing their trauma throughout the investigation. It is also imperative to acknowledge the countless current and former Red Stars who suffered verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of Rory Dames and the organization.
“Though it is disheartening that it took a formal investigation to uncover the abuse that numerous players have been experiencing—and voicing—in our league, we are relieved to finally see the truth exposed.”
In her report, Yates wrote that Whisler was found to be complicit in allowing to continue despite being made aware of claims against Dames, Chicago’s coach from 2011 to ’21. Dames, who was fired in November after the allegations first became public, reportedly created “a culture of fear” and was “emotionally and verbally abusive” to his players. The players stated in the report Dames also used “pejorative and degrading language and made racially insensitive comments.”
Whisler announced last Tuesday that he would step down from the position before his ousting was confirmed less than a day later. Red Stars players acknowledged in their statement that they were not aware of the extent of Whisler’s involvement until the report was released. With this mind, the players noted that, while Whisler’s removal as chairman is a notable step forward, the club should now turn its attention to forcing the embattled owner to sell the team.
“After the departure of Dames, Arnim Whisler assured us that he was shocked to hear the allegations against Dames, claiming that he had no knowledge of the environment Dames cultivated at the club. While we were dubious about Whisler’s assertion, it wasn’t until the report was released that the extent of his dishonesty became clear. We are united with the Board of Directors in their decision to remove Whisler from the organization entirely and look forward to finding a new majority owner who can help us realize the full potential that we as players always knew existed for this club. We have confidence in our Board’s ability to move this club in a direction that is mutually beneficial to players, investors, and our fans.”
The Red Stars players concluded their statement by voicing their hope for a better tomorrow as more information comes to light regarding claims of sexual misconduct around the NWSL. They also thanked the fans for their continuous support and vowing to continue to fight to “strengthen this team, this club, and this league and will do so in our town-Chicago.”
“There are many steps that need to be taken not only in our organization but in this league to provide a protected and supportive environment in which players can thrive. We hope that the ongoing NWSL and NWSLPA joint investigation will reveal the remaining issues requiring attention as we develop a safer league. This team has endured serious hardships over the years, and it is finally our time to implement the changes for which we’ve tirelessly pushed. We are committed to building a future in which players and staff alike can experience joy and success at our club.”
The timing of Monday’s statement comes on the heels of a recent announcement from USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone, who told CNN last Friday at least three new cases have been reported to the organization since the results of the probe were released.
Parlow Cone disclosed that the cases have been forwarded to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a Congress-backed organization focused on preventing sexual, emotional and physical abuse in Olympic and Paralympic sports, and other authorities, but did not divulge any additional details.
More Soccer Coverage:
var contentId = ‘ci02ad746d000126d0’;
if (contentId !== ”)
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’, content_ids: [contentId], content_type: ‘product’);