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Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler breaks silence on coaching scandal

(Jesse Louie/Just Women's Sports)

Chicago Red Stars’ majority owner Arnim Whisler has broken his silence for the first time since allegations of abuse against former coach Rory Dames came to light in November. Dames was recently the subject of more allegations by the Washington Post, which accuse Dames of sexual misconduct with multiple players from his youth soccer club in Chicago.

In a letter posted to the Red Stars’ website, Whisler says that he is “further heartbroken” by the allegations from the former youth players.

“I have spoken with many players and the experiences they have told me about are unacceptable,” he wrote. “There is no place for abuse of any kind in soccer — or anywhere.”

Since founding the Red Stars in 2007, Whisler says that the club’s goal was to “build a sustainable league for women to achieve their professional dreams in a positive and healthy environment.”

“The past few months have been a time of deep humility, contrition, and reflection for me,” he continued. “I have always strived to ensure that everyone hired in our environment is of high character and shares our positive values. But we have not always succeeded. For that, I am sorry.”

In November, reports in the Washington Post detailed how Dames was emotionally abusive toward current and former Red Stars players, including Christen Press. At the time, US Soccer’s handling of the situation was called into question, with multiple players having reported the abuse to the USSF to no avail. USWNT players have since responded to the latest allegations in a letter written to current USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone and former president Carlos Cordeiro, accusing them of failing “to do the bare minimum.”

The letter from Whisler is the first public comments from the club since November, when they said they had opened an independent review of player health and safety several weeks prior to the allegations going public.

In addition to the apology, Whisler outlined how the organization has restructured, including that the head coach no longer has primary responsibility over player contracts and personnel matters. The Red Stars have yet to hire a new head coach.

“This message is not the end of the discussion; our work is not done,” he continued. “We commit to listening more actively and to supporting our players, staff, and our fans. We pledge to better align our actions with our values.”