Christen Press & former Chicago Red Stars teammates receive apology after abuse claims

Christen Press and her former teammates Jennifer Hoy and Samantha Johnson have received an apology from Chicago Red Stars

Christen Press and her former teammates Jennifer Hoy and Samantha Johnson have received an apology from Chicago Red Stars, after the players made allegations of abuse against the club’s ex-head coach Rory Dames.

Dames resigned earlier this week 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 on Monday.

A range of allegations were 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.

Press, Hoy and Johnson were among the players to make complaints about Dames during their time at Chicago Red Stars. The club’s ownership has now issued an apology for allowing the abuse to happen.

“We apologise to Christen Press, Jennifer Hoy, Samantha Johnson and those players who didn’t feel safe to come forward, and we are deeply sorry for the pain they endure,” the apology read.

“As the owners of the Chicago Red Stars, we commit to holding ourselves accountable and to doing better. There is no place for any type of abuse in women’s sports.

“The fact that it happened here, despite the belief that we had mechanisms in place to prevent it, means our club will require significant reflection and evaluation to ensure this does not happen again.”

The ownership also claimed they would be working to implement mechanisms that would protect players going forward and give them anonymous ways to report abuse.

As part of the search for a new coach, the club’s ownership pledged to ensure active player involvement in the recruitment process, and conduct thorough background checks of the candidates by interviewing prior peers, players and team staff.

“The Chicago Red Stars are motivated to be a part of positive change for the NWSL while also recognising the ways in which we have contributed to a culture that did not sufficiently prioritise the health and safety of our players,” the apology continued.

“We commit to ensuring this team succeeds in years to come by being a player-centric organisation.”

USWNT star Press, who played for Chicago Red Stars between 2014 and 2017, first spoke up about Dames during her first year at the club.

She expressed her concerns during a meeting with Sunil Gulati, the US Soccer President at the time, but her worries were dismissed. The forward felt she would risk her place in the national team if she left Chicago Red Stars so she remained at the club.

In 2017, however, 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.

Former Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames has been accused of abuse

“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.”

Despite the investigation, US Soccer, who oversaw the NWSL at the time, took no apparent action.

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.

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.

Christen Press complained about Rory Dames to US Soccer
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