Player's mum told US Soccer about coach's domestic violence incident
NEW YORK – Mere weeks after a World Cup performance viewed by many as a positive step forward for a promising group of players, the United States men’s football team has been enveloped in a soap opera storyline involving its coach, a popular former player, a current player (who happens to be the popular former player’s son) and an intricate web of friendly and familial ties.
The drama – the residue of a decades-old incident outside a college bar – has led to an investigation by the US Soccer Federation; threatened the hold of the coach, Gregg Berhalter, on his post just as he is negotiating a new contract; and potentially damaged the reputation of the player, Gio Reyna, and of his parents.
On Tuesday afternoon, Berhalter released a lengthy statement on Twitter, revealing that “an individual” (whom he did not name) had contacted the federation during the World Cup claiming to have information that might compel the team to terminate his employment.
Berhalter came forward instead, writing that he had kicked his current wife, Rosalind, in the legs during an alcohol-fueled fight in 1991.
“The lessons learned from that night over three decades ago became the foundation for a loving, devoted, and supportive relationship, which we honoured and celebrated with our 25th wedding anniversary this past weekend,” he said in the statement.
Minutes later, US Soccer sent out its own statement, saying that it had hired a law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, to investigate the allegations against Berhalter after learning of them Dec 11.
US Soccer also said on Tuesday that the investigation had separately uncovered “potential inappropriate behaviour towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organisation.”
Wednesday afternoon, the parents of Gio Reyna, a 20-year-old winger on the US team, admitted that they were the ones who had contacted the team’s sporting director, Earnie Stewart, on Dec 11 with the information about the incident. The couple have reportedly denied making threats against Berhalter.
Reyna’s father, Claudio, is a former captain of the US men’s team and the current sporting director of Austin FC.
In a statement on Wednesday, Danielle Reyna said she was the one who initially contacted Stewart about the bar incident. She said she was “outraged and devastated” after Berhalter was quoted speaking about a problematic player on the team who was nearly sent home during the World Cup.
Berhalter told a conference after returning from Qatar that a player on the team was “clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field”. Gio Reyna later confirmed in an Instagram post that Berhalter was talking about him.
Danielle, who has known Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter for years, reportedly made the federation aware of the fight between the pair outside a bar 31 years ago after Berhalter criticised her son after the World Cup.
“I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologised for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age,” Danielle Reyna said in a statement, according to ESPN. NYTIMES, REUTERS