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Whisler being ousted as Red Stars owner after release of Yates Report

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The NWSL’s investigation into allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct hit the Chicago Red Stars hard last week.

The Yates Report was released Oct. 3, and some of its 319 pages include claims that ex-Stars coach Rory Dames abused players and that team owner Arnim Whisler turned a blind eye to players’ complaints. Dames resigned as coach after the 2021 season prior to a the publication of a Washington Post article that alleged he verbally abused players, including Christian Press.

The latest revelations prompted a national outcry that Whisler should be ousted, and steps appear to be taken for that to happen.

On Oct. 5, the Red Stars board of directors issued a strong statement.

“The Board of Directors of the Chicago Red Stars voted this morning to remove Arnim Whisler as Chairman of the Board, to transition him out of his board seat immediately with the Chicago Red Stars [Chicago Women’s Soccer Academy, LLC] and to codify his removal from any further participation with either club or board operations,” the statement said. “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.

“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. Lastly, the board wants to extend its gratitude for all who displayed such bravery in sharing their stories. Thank you for coming forward.”

One day prior, Whisler issued had his own statement.

“There are few things in life that I have as much love and admiration for than our Chicago Red Stars,” he wrote. “That’s why after reviewing yesterday’s report, I am filled with sorrow upon reading the many stories and experiences shared by so many incredibly brave individuals who have played in the NWSL, including our beloved club.

“I am so deeply sorry for what our players experienced during their time spent in Chicago. Our organization is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club, and I recognize that my current presence is a distraction. I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players’ incredible and well earned playoff run.

“So, in the interest of the club and the players, and fans we serve, effective immediately, I will remove myself from my governance role within the NWSL board of governors and will hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago.”

Whisler has owned the club since 2012 and had in the past been hailed by some observers as someone who helped save women’s professional soccer in the United States.

He said he will continue to cooperate with the Joint Investigative Team.

“I encourage any individual with information relating to discrimination, harassment, abuse, retaliation, or bullying within the league, to contact [email protected], to reach out to the NWSL or NWSLPA directly, or through club reporting channels.

“I also ask our entire Chicago Red Stars community to continue supporting our deserving players and staff in their pursuit of a championship.”

The league had a week off from competition because of an International break in which many of the NWSL’s top stars participated in friendly matches in England.

During an interview, outspoken Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe called Dames an “a——.” An Instagram quote by Rapinoe saying Whisler is not fit to be an owner was re-posted by Red Stars players Amanda Kowalski, Ella Stevens, Danny Colaprico, Jill Aguilera and Arin Wright.

The Yates Report was overseen by former acting United States Attorney General Sally Quillen Yates, with the aid of a law firm.

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