Investigators clarify the incident of the former US soccer coach in 1992
Gregg Berhalter, the men’s national soccer team coach at last year’s World Cup, is eligible to return for the next World Cup cycle after investigators examining his personal conduct cleared him to remain a candidate for the job, the US said – Football Association on Monday.
“There is no evidence that employing Mr. Berhalter would pose any legal risk to an organization,” investigators said a report published on Monday.
The association hired investigators from Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird three months ago to investigate an incident in which Berhalter kicked his wife, Rosalind, outside a bar when they were together as students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , in 1992. No police report was filed for this incident.
Investigators said they were “impressed by Mr. Berhalter’s frankness and demeanor” during the investigation and found no discrepancies between Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter’s description of the incident, with Gregg Berhalter saying he reported it to his college coach and himself also seek advice he played. The two had been drunk when they left the bar arguing and Rosalind slapped Gregg in the face. Gregg then pinned her to the ground and kicked her twice in the thigh, the report said.
Both Berhalters admitted what happened in a statement released in January, saying they have been happily married for 25 years.
The report also said, based on interviews and research, that there was no reason to believe Berhalter – whose contract with US Soccer expired at the end of 2022 – had ever acted aggressively towards his wife in the past 31 years.
“The investigation found no evidence that he had engaged in violence against any other person at any time before or since,” the report said, calling the 1992 incident “an isolated case.”
In a statement Monday, Gregg Berhalter said: “Rosalind and I respect the process that US Soccer has gone through. We’re grateful it’s completed and look forward to what’s next.”
The report concludes a bizarre turn of events surrounding the World Cup involving Claudio and Danielle Reyna, parents of US striker Gio Reyna. The Reynas complained to US Soccer about Gio’s playing time in the tournament, suggesting “they had damaging information about Mr Berhalter that US soccer officials were unaware of”.
The Berhalters and Reynas had been close friends for decades, and Rosalind and Danielle had been college soccer teammates. But the Reynas were angered after hearing Berhalter’s public comments about an unnamed player at the World Cup who “clearly failed to live up to expectations on and off the field” and whom staff were considering sending home. The player was Gio Reyna and the Reynas vented to US Soccer what Berhalter had said, with Danielle Reyna telling the federation about the 1992 incident.
The Reynas informed US Soccer of the incident, the report said, because they didn’t want the federation to renew Berhalter’s contract. “The information was disclosed at a time when it was expected to dissuade or otherwise influence the organization from offering Mr. Berhalter a contract extension,” the report said.
The report said Danielle Reyna initially denied investigators that she told US Soccer Director Earnie Stewart about the kicking incident, but then called back to say she actually did it. Compared to the Berhalters’ openness and willingness to investigate, the report said, the Reynas were far less cooperative.
The Reynas could not be immediately reached for comment.
The investigative report details some of Reynas’ complaints to US Soccer over the years, noting in particular Claudio Reynas’ years of service at the federation on behalf of his children, notably Gio.
Claudio Reyna expressed dissatisfaction with the US Soccer Development Academy’s youth club refereeing, travel arrangements at the U-17 World Cup (he wanted business class) and Gio’s playing time with the national team, according to the report. A person interviewed by investigators called Reyna’s interactions with US Soccer about his sons “inappropriate,” “bullying,” and “vicious.” Another, whose name was also redacted, said: “Mr. Reyna expected Gio Reyna to be treated better than other players.”
The report also said that communications between the Reynas and US Soccer did not violate any federation law or policy, but did not say whether the Reynas violated FIFA’s code of ethics.
In a statement, US Soccer noted that the report states that “US Soccer’s policies regarding appropriate parental behavior and communication with employees at the national team level need to be reviewed.”
The federation went on to say: “We will update these guidelines as we continue to work to ensure safe environments for all participants in our game.”
It is not yet known whether Berhalter will be in charge of the men’s national team at the time these guidelines are introduced.
Stewart, the sporting director, resigned in January amid the Reyna Berhalter situation and took a job with a Dutch club team and US Soccer are looking for his successor. The new sporting director is expected to be in charge of hiring the new men’s national team coach.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/13/sports/soccer/usmnt-gregg-berhalter-investigation.html Investigators clarify the incident of the former US soccer coach in 1992