Red Stars chairman stepping aside day after damning report released

  • Portland Thorns fans hold signs during the first half of the team's NWSL soccer match against the Houston Dash in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women's Soccer League last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players, according to a report released Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

    Portland Thorns fans hold signs during the first half of the team's NWSL soccer match against the Houston Dash in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women's Soccer League last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players, according to a report released Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Associated Press

 
Daily Herald news services
Updated 10/4/2022 7:44 PM

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 Red Stars -- the chairman of the Chicago 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.

 

"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 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.

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 move comes hours after Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson removed himself from a decision-making role with the National Women's Soccer League club. Paulson, who is also the owner of Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, announced his decision in a statement Tuesday. A concurrent investigation is still being conducted jointly by the league and the players' union, and Paulson plans to step away until its completion.

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