Coach of NWSL soccer team resigns, a day before report alleges verbal and emotional abuse of players

The coach of the Chicago Red Stars resigned Sunday, a day after leading his team to the National Women’s Soccer League title game and a day before a Washington Post report alleged that players had accused him of verbal and emotional abuse.

Rory Dames’ resignation was announced in a press release dated Sunday from the Red Stars, which lost Saturday 2-1 to the Washington Spirit. The statement made no mention of the allegations.

The story Monday in the Post is the latest chapter to roil the 10-team league, which has been facing a reckoning over the treatment of its players. The Post reported players had turned to the US Soccer Federation for help about the alleged abuse instead of the NWSL. CNN has reached out to Dames for comment.

Last month, the NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigned and the league called off weekend matches following a report by The Athletic detailing allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct against Paul Riley, who coached three NWSL franchises over eight seasons. Riley in an email to The Athletic denied the claims.

In addition, the CEO and managing partner of the Washington Spirit resigned and referenced a recent request by the players, who cited concerns over workplace environment, as part of the reason for stepping down.

FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, announced an investigation as did US Soccer, the latter retaining former acting Attorney General Sally Yates of King & Spalding LLP to lead the probe into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct.

On October 29, the players association said the league had agreed to meet all the players’ demands for cultural changes and transparency following the earlier reports of sexual misconduct.

Dames said he was resigning to focus on his family

In a statement Monday, the Red Stars said they stood with the players “who are fiercely advocating for change, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure a safe environment” for players, staff, volunteers and fans.

When Dames’ resignation was announced, neither the team nor the coach referenced the allegations.

“For 11 years, I have dedicated myself to help build the Chicago Red Stars into one of the top international clubs,” Dames said in the team’s press release. “Effective today, I’m refocusing my attention to my family and future endeavors, and I am resigning as coach of the Chicago Red Stars.”

In the same statement posted on the Stars’ website, the team said that “under Rory’s leadership we have been a remarkably consistent and excellent club on the field,” adding that it was time to begin a new chapter with the search for new leadership.

The Post reported one of the players who complained about Dames was Christen Press, a member of the US Women’s National Team and a former Red Stars player.

According to the Post, Press said she told then-US Soccer president Sunil Gulati her concerns about Dames in 2014, and she filed a formal complaint to US Soccer about Dames in 2018. CNN has reached out to Gulati for comment.

The NWSL Players Association said in a statement that the system has failed the players. “Nothing short of a complete transformation of our league will suffice,” the association said.

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