Gregg Berhalter, coach of the men's national soccer team at last year's World Cup, is eligible to return for the next World Cup cycle after investigators probing his personal conduct allowed him to remain a candidate for the job, the US Soccer Federation said Monday.
“There is no basis for concluding that the employment of Mr Berhalter would pose a legal risk to an organization,” said investigators at report announced on Monday.
The Federation three months ago hired investigators at the Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird to investigate an incident involving Berhalter kicking his wife, Rosalind, in front of a bar while they were dating as students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. , in 1992. No police report was filed into the incident.
Investigators said they were “impressed with Mr. Berhalter's candor and demeanor” during the investigation and found no discrepancies between Gregg's and Rosalind Berhalter's descriptions of the incident, with Gregg Berhalter saying he reported it to his college coach and also sought counseling for his walk. he acts. The two were drunk when they left the bar arguing, and Rosalind punched Gregg in the face. Gregg then pushed him down and kicked him twice in the upper leg, the report said.
Both Berhalters, in a statement published in January, acknowledged what happened and said they had been happily married for 25 years.
The report also said, based on interviews and research, that there is no reason to believe that Berhalter – whose contract with US Soccer expires at the end of 2022 – has ever acted aggressively towards his wife in the past 31 years.
“Investigations revealed no evidence to suggest that he had committed violence against another person at any time before or since,” the report said, calling the 1992 incident an “isolated event.”
In a statement Monday, Gregg Berhalter said: “Rosalind and I respect the process that US Soccer goes through. We are grateful that this is over and looking forward to what's next.”
The report sums up the strange events surrounding the World Cup involving Claudio and Danielle Reyna, the parents of US forward Gio Reyna. Reynas complained to US Soccer about Gio's playing time in tournaments and suggested “they know damaging information about Mr Berhalter that US Soccer officials don't know about.”
Berhalters and Reynas have been close friends for decades, and Rosalind and Danielle have been college football teammates. But Reynas became irritated after hearing Berhalter's public comments about an unnamed player at the World Cup who “clearly did not live up to expectations on and off the pitch” and who was considered by staff to be sent home. The player is Gio Reyna, and Reyna confides in US Soccer about what Berhalter said, with Danielle Reyna informing the federation about the 1992 incident.
Reynas notified US Soccer of the incident, the report said, because they did not want the federation to renew Berhalter's contract. “The information was disclosed at a time when it was expected to prevent or influence the organization from offering Mr Berhalter a contract extension,” the report said.
The report said Danielle Reyna first denied to investigators that she told US Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart about the kicking incident but then called back to say she did. Compared to how open and willing Berhalters was in the investigation, the report said, Reyna's family was far less cooperative.
Reynas could not immediately be reached for comment.
The investigative report details several of Reynas' complaints to US Soccer over the years, specifically citing Claudio Reyna's years of attempts at the federation on behalf of his children, particularly Gio.
Claudio Reyna expressed dissatisfaction with refereeing at the youth club level of the US Soccer Development Academy, travel arrangements at the Under-17 World Cup (he wanted business class) and Gio's playing time on the national team, according to the report. One person interviewed by investigators called Reyna's interactions with US Soccer about her son “inappropriate”, “bullying” and “mean-spirited”. Another person, whose name has also been redacted, said, “Mr. Reyna hopes Gio Reyna is treated better than other players.”
The report also said that the communications between Reynas and US Soccer did not violate any law or federation policy, but did not say whether Reynas violated FIFA's code of conduct.
In a statement, US Soccer noted that the report said there was a need to review US Soccer's policies regarding proper parental behavior and communication with staff at the National Team level.
The Federation went on to say: “We will update the policy as we continue to work to ensure a safe environment for all participants in our games.”
Whether Berhalter will be in charge of the men's national team when the policy is implemented remains unknown.
Stewart, sporting director, stepped down in January amid the Reyna-Berhalter situation and took the job with the Dutch club team, and US Soccer is looking to replace him. The new sporting director will most likely be responsible for hiring the new men's national team coach.