Former Chicago Red Stars players complained to the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2018 that coach Rory Dames, who recently left the team, verbally, emotionally and racially abused them for years, according to The Washington Post.
"I think Rory emotionally abuses players," U.S. national team player and former Red Stars player Christen Press said in a formal complaint about Dames, the Post reported. "He uses his power and status as the coach to manipulate players and get close to them."
Dames, the longest-tenured coach in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), was reportedly permitted to keep coaching at the time but resigned on Saturday after his team lost the league's championship game to the Washington Spirit.
Dames said he was resigning to refocus his attention on his family and "future endeavors."
Becca Roux, who serves as executive director of the national team players’ union, confirmed to the Post that U.S. Soccer received the complaint in early 2018.
The Post reported that seven players said that Dames was abusive toward them or their teammates, five of whom attempted to be traded or leave the team as a result.
Red Stars spokesperson Natalie Bauer Luce promised an “independent review of player health and safety and the team’s work culture” in a statement to The Hill, but did not address the specific allegations.
"We stand with the players who are fiercely advocating for change, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure a safe environment for the League’s players, staff, volunteers and fans," Luce added.
NWSL spokesperson Kirsten Brierley also told The Hill that the league had "initiated an investigation to review historical and ongoing complaints of discrimination, harassment, or abuse, and, where necessary, reopen investigations into these complaints or initiate a new adjudication process."
"We are committed to making the systemic and cultural changes necessary to create a safe environment for our players and staff, and this investigation is an important step in that process,” Brierley added.
Dames is the fifth male NWSL coach to face accusations of misconduct this year.
Last month, U.S. Soccer said Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesFormer Chicago Red Stars players accuse ex-coach of verbal, emotional abuse An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Sally Yates reveals breast cancer battle MORE, the former acting attorney general, would lead its investigation of the NWSL.
A spokesperson for U.S. Soccer, Neil Buethe, told the Post that the investigation's results would be made public but specific allegations would not be addressed until the investigation was complete.
“We share the concerns about allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer and are addressing this matter with the utmost urgency,” Buethe said, adding that Yates had been “given full autonomy, access and necessary resources to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead.”
— Updated at 10:58 a.m.