The US Soccer Federation says Gregg Berhalter remains a candidate to stay on as men’s national team coach after a report by a law firm concluded that he did not improperly withhold information about a 1992 domestic violence allegation involving the women who later became his wife.
The report also concluded that Berhalter’s conduct “likely constituted the misdemeanor crime of assault on a female.”
The report, which US Soccer made available on its website, said that Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter confirmed they were involved in a physical fight with each other outside a bar when they were 18-year-old college students.
The couple said that Gregg pushed Rosalind to the ground and kicked her after she slapped him when they had been drinking. The couple reported the incident to their respective soccer coaches at the University of North Carolina. Gregg Berhalter later underwent counselling. The couple split up before reuniting the following year. The report said there is no evidence that any physical assaults have occurred between the couple since.
The report said that the incident “does not prevent an employer from employing Mr Berhalter. Given that the 1992 Incident occurred approximately 31 years ago, and given the lack of information or any evidence contradicting witness accounts or suggesting any similar conduct after that 1992 Incident, there is no basis to conclude that employing Mr Berhalter would create legal risks for an organization.”
The firm Alston and Bird was retained after former US captain Claudio Reyna and wife Danielle Egan Reyna, the parents of current USA midfielder Gio Reyna, went to the USSF with allegations of the 1992 incident following the decision by Berhalter to use Gio Reyna sparingly at last year’s World Cup.
The report said the Reyna parents had attempted to influence USSF decisions on their children as far back as 2016, “ranging from travel arrangements to the impact of on-pitch refereeing decisions.”
Former US men’s team general manager Brian McBride gave the investigators a text he received from Claudio Reyna – a former teammate – on 21 November after Gio Reyna wasn’t used in the Americans’ opening 1-1 draw with Wales at the World Cup.
“Our entire family is disgusted, angry, and done with you guys,” the text said. “Don’t expect nice comments from anyone in our family about US Soccer. I’m being transparent to you not like the political clown show of the federation.”
Then-USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart told the investigators that after a poor performance by Gio Reyna in a pre-World Cup scrimmage, the 20-year-old “walk(ed) around, and mope(d) around the whole time,” “seemed ticked off” and “did not appear to be trying at all.”
Berhalter nearly sent Gio Reyna home and referred to the matter without naming the player at a leadership conference in New York in December. After the remarks became public and it was clear they referred to Gio Reyna, Claudio and Danielle Reyna called Stewart and revealed the allegation of the 1992 incident. Stewart reported the matter to US Soccer’s legal counsel, which launched the probe.
“Some media reports characterized the Reynas’ actions as ‘blackmail,’” the report said. “As a legal matter, we do not arrive at the same conclusion.”
“Blackmail or extortion is the act of obtaining property by compelling or inducing a person to deliver such property by means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another will cause some form of harm to the person,” the report said. “Based on the facts gathered to date, we do not conclude that the Reynas’ actions rise to the level of or would otherwise result in a conviction for extortion.”
The report said Danielle Reyna initially refused to discuss the matter with investigators during a telephone call, but she called back shortly later and began by saying: “I did it” and detailed what she had told Stewart 18 days earlier.