Chicago Red Stars majority owner Arnim Whisler has apologized to players over text message, former Red Star Sam Johnson revealed Tuesday.
According to a screenshot posted to Johnson’s Instagram stories, Whisler texted her saying he is “so sorry for what happened to you at the Red Stars and for not knowing or having procedures that could uncover it.
“If it’s helpful I’m happy to speak or help further,” he continued.
On the screenshot, Johnson wrote “Calculated…”
She later added that she was “happy to discuss publicly honey, pick a platform” tagging the Chicago Red Stars as well as multiple national media outlets.
Johnson then revealed a text that was sent to Jen Hoy, another player quoted publicly in the Post, that read similar to what she received.
“….that was kinda like a mass text,” she wrote.
Johnson had 68 appearances for the Red Stars from 2014 through 2018 before being traded to the Utah Royals. She was then sent on loan to Australia’s W-League where she played with Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory. She then returned to Utah where she appeared in 14 games for the team before announcing her retirement from professional soccer.
In 2020, she made her return to Australia’s W-League with Melbourne City before making her way to Soyaux in France.
The defender was quoted multiple times in The Washington Post story published Monday, which featured multiple current and former NWSL players accusing former Red Stars coach Rory Dames of verbal and emotional abuse.
Johnson discussed being witness to an incident in which Dames yelled at a player, who is a mother, “If you can’t even talk on the field, what kind of mother are you?”
“Something happens to [Dames] when he comes to work, because he’s a completely different person, and he does not have to be that way,” Johnson said of Dames and the incident. “It’s extremely demoralizing and definitely verbally abusive. Is verbal abuse against the rules? I don’t know, but I just know I wasn’t comfortable with him challenging my teammate like that.”
“It affects people’s individual confidence, individual everything,” she later added. “For some players, you question everything you do, everything you are.”
According to reporting by Post, Whisler had knowledge of allegations of abuse against Dames since at least 2018 when he was made aware of an investigation that was being conducted by U.S. Soccer. Whisler has a long history with U.S. Soccer, having worked with the federation to help found the NWSL in 2012.
The first time allegations of abuse were brought to U.S. Soccer was in 2014, when USWNT and former Red Star Christen Press brought her concerns to U.S. Soccer officials.
In addition to the allegations, the article details the failures of U.S. Soccer to respond to the allegations. In the article, Johnson said it is a sign that there needs to be an independent and unbiased governing body that overlooks the league, its owners and U.S. Soccer.
“There’s no one looking over the higher-ups,” she said.
On Tuesday, Red Stars’ ownership issued a statement, walking back their previous statement on Dames and apologizing to players.