Chicago Red Stars players are calling for the expulsion of majority owner Arnim Whisler as the National Women’s Soccer League club reels from reports of abuse and harassment by former coach Rory Dames.
The players released a joint statement Monday, less than a week after the league announced the findings of an independent investigation headed by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spalding. The NWSL commissioned the investigation after a series of abuse and harassment allegations throughout the league in the last year.
The Yates report included descriptions of abuse and harassment allegedly perpetrated by Dames and allegedly covered up by Whisler.
The players say Whisler promised them he was completely unaware of any allegations against Dames, which flies in the face of pages of evidence in the Yates report that Whisler was aware of multiple reports and investigations into the former coach’s conduct for years before his resignation in November 2021.
“We, the players of the Chicago Red Stars, are incredibly saddened, infuriated and appalled by the reprehensible findings of the Sally Yates report,” the joint statement said. “We are united with the Board of Directors in their decision to remove Whisler from the organization entirely and look forward to finding a new majority owner who can help us realize the full potential that we as players always knew existed for this club.
“This team has endured serious hardships over the years, and it is finally our time to implement the changes for which we’ve tirelessly pushed. We are committed to building a future in which players and staff alike can experience joy and success at our club.”
Former chief business officer Vicky Lynch also announced her resignation from the Red Stars on Monday as the team’s front office remains in turmoil after the Yates report.
In a statement she posted on Twitter, Lynch said she met with players after a training session last October to establish her goal of protecting players from the abuse and harassment reported throughout the league.
This meeting occurred more than a month before the Red Stars front office allowed Dames to resign from his position. At the time, Whisler said the club allowed Dames to resign because it “didn’t have any reason to believe that there was a safety issue in our environment.”
“After reading the Yates report, I was sickened and felt that I had been misled about what had occurred at the club prior to my arrival,” Lynch wrote in her statement.
The Red Stars named Mike Ernst — who has been in an advisory role since July after 14 years with the Chicago Fire — as interim chief business officer. The board also named Kim Vender Moffat as its new chairwoman.