The ownership group of National Women’s Soccer League team Chicago Red Stars has apologized after former coach Rory Dames resigned amid accusations of emotional and verbal abuse.
Dames was accused of misconduct by several players, including U.S. national team star Christen Press, on Monday, the day after he resigned as coach of the NWSL side.
Press filed a complaint to the U.S. Soccer Federation regarding Dames’ conduct in 2018, according to a report from the Washington Post, in which the U.S. forward said he “uses his power and status as the coach to manipulate players.”
Former Red Stars players Jen Hoy and Sam Johnson also detailed instances of emotional or verbal abuse in the 2018 report to U.S. Soccer.
“We apologize to Christen Press, Jennifer Hoy, Samantha Johnson and those players who didn’t feel safe to come forward, and we are deeply sorry for the pain they endure,” the Red Stars ownership said in a statement.
“As the owners of the Chicago Red Stars, we commit to holding ourselves accountable and to doing better. There is no place for any type of abuse in women’s sports.
“The fact that it happened here, despite the belief that we had mechanisms in place to prevent it, means our club will require significant reflection and evaluation to ensure this does not happen again.”
Dames’ resignation came less than 48 hours after his team were runners-up in the NWSL championship final, losing 2-1 to Washington Spirit, and at the end of a tumultuous season in which five male coaches were ousted for alleged misconduct.
Games were cancelled last month as players protested the NWSL’s handling of the allegations against former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley.
The Red Stars ownership added that they will involve its players in the “identification and selection” of it new head coach and has begun the process of improving how players can report abuse anonymously.
“The Chicago Red Stars are motivated to be a part of positive change for the NWSL while also recognizing the ways in which we have contributed to a culture that did not sufficiently prioritize the health and safety of our players, and we commit to ensuring this team succeeds in years to come by being a player-centric organization,” it said.
Sarah Spain, an ESPN commentator and radio host, has an ownership stake in the Red Stars.