CHICAGO – Over a day after US Soccer released a report detailing systemic abuse and misconduct over the years in the National Women’s Soccer League, some of which the report found took place with the Chicago Red Stars, the chairman of the team is stepping aside.
Arnim Whisler announced that he will hand control of the Red Stars to his executive team in Chicago while also taking himself out of his governance role on the NWSL Board of Governors.
This comes after former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates released her report to US Soccer on Monday that was commissioned to investigate claims of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct that rocked the league during the 2021 season.
This included allegations against former Red Stars manager Rory Dames, who resigned after the 2021 season when these were brought to light in a Washington Post report.
Many of these same claims were brought to light in the Yates report to US Soccer about the Red Stars, including Whisler, had not acted promptly to protect the players when he first heard of the allegations against Dames in 2014.
The full report from Yates can be read by clicking here.
“There are few things in life that I have as much love and admiration for than our Chicago Red Stars. That’s why after reviewing yesterday’s report, I am filled with sorrow upon reading the many stories and experiences shared by so many incredibly brave individuals who have played in the NWSL, including our beloved club,” said Whisler. “I am so deeply sorry for what our players experienced during their time spent in Chicago. Our organization is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club, and I recognize that my current presence is a distraction.
“I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players’ incredible and well-earned playoff run.”
This is a similar move to one made by the Portland Thorns, who were also scrutinized for their handling of abuse claims. Owner Merritt Paulson along with two other members of the organization also stepped away from their duties with the club.
NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman released a statement on behalf of the league shortly after Whisler’s announcement.
“The NWSL is supportive of the important steps taken by the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars today. As the League continues to evaluate the Yates report, I want to assure you that we remain committed to implementing reform and disciplinary action, both as a result of the Yates Report and the NWSL/NWSLPA’s Joint Investigative Team’s findings. The Joint Investigative Team is working towards concluding their report by the end of the year, and we will not interfere with that process, as the findings of that investigation will offer important input from our players. While it will take time, we are fully prepared to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our players, staff and other stakeholders in order to create the League that our players, fans, partners and staff deserve and expect.”
The Red Stars finished their regular season on Sunday with a win over Angel City FC to clinch the sixth and final spot in the NWSL Playoffs. They will play their quarterfinal match against San Diego Wave FC on Sunday, Oct. 16.