Chicago Red Stars’ Rory Dames has resigned after becoming the latest head coach in the NWSL to be accused of abuse.
The allegations against Dames came to light following an investigation by the Washington Post, which was published yesterday.
Dames resigned from his position as Chicago Red Stars head coach just hours before the newspaper’s findings were published.
A range of allegations are made against Dames in the article, including claims of verbal attacks, inappropriate off-hours communication, comments on players’ appearances, and inappropriate jokes about players’ ethnicity and religion.
It is also alleged he asked players to spend time with him outside of a professional setting. One such player told the Washington Post: “I felt like I didn’t have the option to say no.”
USWNT star Christen Press, who played for Chicago Red Stars between 2014 and 2017, was among the players to complain about Dames.
Press first spoke up about Dames in 2014, during a meeting with Sunil Gulati, the US Soccer President at the time. But her concerns were dismissed, and the forward felt she would risk her place in the national team if she left Chicago Red Stars.
In 2017, Press told Dames that she wanted to be traded due to his treatment of her. The next year, she filed a formal complaint against him with US Soccer, sparking an investigation.
“I think Rory emotionally abuses players,” she wrote in notes compiled for the formal complaint. “He doesn’t have a safe distance between himself and his players. He uses his power and status as the coach to manipulate players and get close to them.”
Multiple players reported their concerns to US Soccer alongside Press. At the time, the organisation oversaw the NWSL and paid national team stars to play in the league.
Despite the investigation, US Soccer took no apparent action, and continued to pay national team members to play for Chicago Red Stars under Dames.
The 48-year-old Dames remained in place at the club, and until Sunday, he was the longest-tenured coach in the NWSL.
He even helped Chicago Red Stars to the NWSL Championship match on Sunday, where his team lost 2-1 in extra-time to Washington Spirit.
Following Dames’s resignation, Chicago Red Stars released a statement on the matter. The club did not mention the abuse allegations, however.
“Under Rory’s leadership we have been a remarkably consistent and excellent club on the field,” the release said.
“We continually evaluate our team and front office environment, and given the dynamic change underway in the league, it is time to begin the next chapter of the Red Stars with a search for new leadership of the team.”
Dames becomes the fifth male NWSL coach to resign in 12 months as the league faces a reckoning over the treatment of its players.
Former NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird also resigned after allegedly ignoring requests to reopen an investigation into former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, who was accused of sexual misconduct.
US Soccer has since launched an investigation into the NWSL, led by former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates.