The Chicago Red Stars board of directors voted to remove club owner and founder Arnim Whisler as chairman, the team announced Wednesday.
The board also aims to facilitate a sale of Whisler’s shares.
The board voted “to transition him out of his board seat immediately” and “to codify his removal from any further participation with either club or board operations,” the team said in a statement.
While the statement did not say Whisler would sell or be stripped of his majority share of the club, a Red Stars spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times that the board is planning for such a scenario.
“The board wants to help facilitate a sale of Arnim’s shares in a timely process which is both prudent and when complete can lead Red Stars players, coaches and front office staff to a better future,” the team told the Sun-Times via email.
Whisler already had stepped away from all club operations as well as the NWSL’s board of governors in response to U.S. Soccer’s report into abuse in the league.
The report, which details the investigation led by former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates, details Whisler’s repeated dismissal of emotional and verbal abuse allegations against former Red Stars coach Rory Dames.
Dames offered to resign over the complaints in 2014, but Whisler declined to accept and no disciplinary measures were taken. Instead, he accused players “of wanting to shut down the league” and that they had an “axe to grind” with Dames.
“Whisler will tell you he knew nothing, which is a complete lie,” one player told U.S. Soccer during the investigation.
Additionally, Dames did not hold the requisite coaching license for eight of the nine years that he coached the Red Stars.
“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,” the team said in its statement.
“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,” the statement continued. “Lastly, the board wants to extend its gratitude for all who displayed such bravery in sharing their stories. Thank you for coming forward.”
The Red Stars board, which is comprised of Dean Egerter, Abel Lezcano, Colleen Mares (advisory board co-chair), Kim Vender Moffat, Brian Walsh and Kevin Willer are all relatively new to the club. With the exception of Lezcano, who was added to the board Wednesday, all joined the board in January.
Any such action may have to wait until after the playoffs, as the Red Stars claimed the sixth and final spot on the last day of the season. They will face the No. 3 seed San Diego Wave in a first-round match at 10 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 16.