In the wake of a scathing investigation ("Report of the Independent Investigation to the U.S. Soccer Federation Concerning Allegations of Abusive Behavior and Sexual Misconduct in Women's Professional Soccer") conducted by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and her current firm, King & Spaulding, about systemic abuse in U.S. women's soccer, the Chicago Red Stars elected to remove Arnim Whisler from his position as board chair.
In a statement Windy City Times received, the team said, "The Board of Directors of the Chicago Red Stars voted to remove Arnim Whisler as chairman of the board, to transition him out of his board seat immediately with the Chicago Red Stars (Chicago Women's Soccer Academy, LLC) and to codify his removal from any further participation with either club or board operations.
"The Board was deeply disappointed after reading the Yates report and believes the club cannot move forward in rebuilding trust with players, staff and the Red Stars community with his continued involvement. Job one for board members is to continue building a culture where players, and all who work at the club, feel that they are in a safe and supportive environment. Lastly, the board wants to extend its gratitude for all who displayed such bravery in sharing their stories. Thank you for coming forward."
Whisler released his own statement. In part, it read, "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. I am so deeply sorry for what our players experienced during their time spent in Chicago."
Windy City Times discovered that, according to the report, "Following media reports of [now-former Portland Thorns coach Paul] Riley's misconduct, the Chicago Red Stars [CRS] retained a sports psychologist to interview CRS players anonymously and conduct an organizational climate review. The review further corroborated the 2014, 2015 and 2018 player complaints, and concluded that [former CRS head coach Rory] Dames created 'a culture of fear' and was emotionally and verbally abusive to players and staff.
"Players described him as 'condescending,' 'manipulative,' 'aggressive,' 'insulting' and 'an intimidator.' The sports psychologist reported that 70% of the players interviewed (including most starting players) reported emotionally abusive behaviors and observed that many players failed to recognize certain behaviors as abusive because they were so ubiquitous in women's soccer. Whisler claims the psychologist's report was the 'clearest indication' that there was a 'pervasive issue' and he had 'missed' 'a pattern of abuse or bullying behavior.'"
Also, the report revealed that Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and general manager Gavin Wilkinson were aware of allegations against Riley, and nonetheless contributed to his hiring by other NWSL clubs, according to Yahoo! News.
The Red Stars are preparing to start their NWSL postseason run after clinching the sixth and final seed with a 2-0 victory over Angel City on Oct. 2. They will visit the San Diego Wave in the first round on Sunday, Oct. 16.