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Greg Berhalter

U.S. Soccer must let Gregg Berhalter go

Gregg Berhalter admits to kicking wife when they dated 31 years ago

It’s time for the U.S. Soccer Federation to part ways with men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter. U.S. Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone must live up to her promise to make “soccer safer for everyone.”

Berhalter’s contract as head coach of the men’s national team ended on Dec. 31. It should be easy to move on and thank him for his service. Berhalter admitted Tuesday to kicking his then-girlfriend when he was an 18-year-old student athlete at the University of North Carolina. 

The victim was Rosalind Maria Santana, a member of UNC’s women’s soccer team.

According to Berhalter, the couple broke up after the incident and then reconnected seven months later. They eventually married. They’ve been married for 25 years and have four children. 

‘Single, isolated event’

There have been no further incidents, according to the statement Berhalter released via Twitter on Tuesday. He described the incident as a “single, isolated event.” That is great to hear, but it’s time for U.S. Soccer to move on anyway.

It’s time to let youth soccer players, and men’s and women’s soccer players know that U.S. Soccer will not tolerate abuse in any forms. 

Rosalind Berhalter is the only one who has to forgive Gregg Berhalter for assaulting her. They are the only ones who truly know how much he has redeemed himself since he kicked her. 

Nonetheless, Parlow Cone needs to show girls and women’s soccer players that she will live up to the promise she made on Oct. 3, 2021, after Sally Q. Yates’ independent investigation into abuse in women’s soccer.

Message must be sent to women’s and girls soccer players

The Yates investigation uncovered plenty of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer. It was a sickening read. We must all work to end that behavior. 

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“As a former player, as a coach, as the president of soccer’s national governing body, I am heartbroken by the contents of the report, which make clear that systemic changes are needed at every level of our game,” Parlow Cone said in a statement last Oct. 3. “The abuse described in the report is entirely inexcusable and has no place in soccer, on or off the field. 

“Along with everyone at U.S. Soccer, I am squarely focused on the changes we will make to address the report’s findings and make soccer safer for everyone. It will take all of U.S. Soccer’s membership working together to create the kind of change needed to ensure our athletes are safe.”

In an incident 31 years ago, a future head coach of the U.S. men’s national team kicked a young woman in anger. That incident came to U.S. Soccer’s attention on Dec. 11, prompting the federation to hire Alston & Bird LLP to investigate.

Gregg Berhalter investigation continues

Although the investigation continues, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that it “has learned about potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization. We take such behavior seriously and have expanded our investigation to include those allegations.”

Some have speculated that Gregg Berhalter may have been blackmailed by somebody threatening to expose his past incident. 

Gio Reyna’s mother Danielle, who played soccer at UNC with Rosalind, told Fox Soccer’s Doug McIntyer on Wednesday that she reported the incident.

“But I want to be very clear that I did not ask for Gregg to be fired, I did not make any threats, and I don’t know anything about any blackmail attempts,” Danielle Reyna told McIntyre.

Berhalter released his own statement via Twitter on Tuesday to seemingly coincide with U.S. Soccer’s release.

“We appreciate Gregg and Rosalind coming forward to speak openly about this incident,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement Tuesday. “Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we will share the results of the investigation publicly when it is complete. U.S. Soccer condemns violence of any kind and takes such allegations very seriously.   

“Last month, U.S. Soccer launched a full technical review of our Men’s National Team Program. With the review and investigation ongoing, U.S. Soccer will announce who will lead the January Men’s National Team camp in the coming days. We look forward to building off the performance in Qatar and preparing for the journey towards 2026.”  

We would hope that U.S. Soccer would punish an 18-year-old member of a U.S. national team if he did the same thing to his girlfriend now.

Parlow Cone noted a few months ago that systemic changes are needed at every level of soccer. You cannot make those changes while allowing Berhalter to remain as the men’s national team coach.

Berhalter’s contract has already expired. This should be an easy decision for Parlow Cone. Change is needed, and it starts at the top.

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