Berhalter eligible to coach after investigation
NEW YORK (AP) — Gregg Berhalter remains a candidate to remain coach of the United States men’s national team after a report by a law firm determined that he did not improperly withhold information about a domestic violence allegation in 1992 involving the woman who later became his wife.
The report, released by the United States Soccer Federation on Monday, also concluded that Berhalter’s conduct “probably constituted the tort of assault on a woman.”
Berhalter’s contract as coach expired on December 31 and Anthony Hudson, one of his assistants, was named interim coach on January 4. The coaching decision will be made after the hiring of a new sporting director.
“Me and my wife, Rosalind, respect the process that US Soccer has gone through,” Gregg Berhalter told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Britain. “We look forward to the sequel.”
“I’m open to all options,” he added. “It’s a job that interests me and I keep all options open.
Alston and Bird was retained after former United States captain Claudio Reyna and his wife Danielle Egan Reyna, the parents of current United States midfielder Gio Reyna, informed the USSF of the 1992 incident following a Berhalter’s decision to use Gio Reyna sparingly at last year’s World Cup. .
The company concluded that the Reynas were not guilty of extortion, but said Claudio Reyna’s conduct could have violated provisions of FIFA’s code of ethics regarding conflicts of interest, protection of the physical and mental integrity and abuse of position.
Claudio Reyna resigned as technical director of the Austin Major League Soccer team on January 26.
The investigation included interviews with 16 witnesses, but investigators said Claudio Reyna refused to be interviewed – a claim he denied through his agent. It included details of the incident between Berhalter and Rosalind Santana in January 1992 at a bar and nightclub in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Berhalter and Santana were students and Santana was a roommate of Danielle Egan, who continued to play for the United States Women’s National Team.
“Mr. and Mrs. Berhalter were both 18 years old and drinking alcohol on the evening in question; they started arguing inside the bar; they left the bar together and continued to argue,” reads “Once outside, Ms. Berhalter punched Mr. Berhalter in the face; Mr. Berhalter pushed her to the ground and kicked her twice; Mr. Berhalter was attacked by a passerby, unknown to the either of the Berhalters; and Mrs. Berhalter got up and left. No police report was filed; no complaints or arrests were made; and no medical attention was sought by Mrs. Berhalter.
The report describes the incident as “an isolated event, and we find no evidence to suggest that Mr. Berhalter engaged in similar misconduct at any other time.”
“Based on information obtained during the investigation, we also found nothing to indicate that Mr. Berhalter improperly concealed the fact of the 1992 incident, or any other information, from US Soccer at any time.” , says the report. “There is no reason to conclude that Mr. Berhalter’s employment would create legal risks for any organization.”
Investigators said “Berhalter’s conduct during the 1992 incident likely constituted the tort of assault on a woman,” but added “Berhalter is not currently at risk of criminal prosecution for the 1992 incident because Carolina du Nord imposes a two-year statute of limitations on misdemeanors.”
Claudio Reyna is a former teammate of Berhalter in high school and in the national team. The report said Reyna’s parents had tried to influence USSF decisions about their children as early as 2016, “ranging from travel arrangements to the impact of on-the-field arbitration decisions.”
Brian McBride, the men’s team general manager until his departure on January 31, gave investigators a text he received from Claudio Reyna – a former teammate – on November 21 after Gio Reyna failed to was used in the Americans’ first 1-1 draw with Wales at the World Cup.
“Our whole family is disgusted, angry and done with you guys,” the text read. “Don’t expect good comments from anyone in our family about American football. I’m being transparent to you, not like the federation’s political clown show.
Earnie Stewart, who was the USSF’s sporting director until February 15, told investigators that after a poor performance by Gio Reyna in a pre-World Cup scrimmage on November 17, the 20-year-old “was walking around, and moping (d) all the time”, “seemed ticked” and “didn’t seem to be trying at all”. Reyna also did not join other players during post-scramble sprints.
Berhalter nearly sent Gio Reyna home, asking him to apologize to his teammates instead. Reyna has made two substitute appearances at the World Cup, seven minutes against England and 45 minutes against Iran.
Berhalter raised the issue without naming the player at a leadership conference in New York on Dec. 6. After the remarks were made public and it was clear they referred to Gio Reyna, Claudio and Danielle Reyna called Stewart on December 11 and revealed the 1992 incident. Stewart reported the matter to senior USSF officials, who launched the investigation.
A person whose name was redacted in the public version of the report, who appeared to be identified as the travel co-ordinator for the federation’s friends and family programme, quoted Danielle Reyna as saying the day after the match against Wales “Once this tournament is over, I can make a phone call and give an interview, and his cool sneakers and bouncy passes will be gone.
“Some media reports called the Reynas’ actions ‘blackmail,’” the report said. “Legally, we don’t come to the same conclusion.”
“Blackmail or extortion is the act of obtaining property by coercing or inducing a person to deliver such property by instilling in him the fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or a otherwise will cause some form of harm to the person,” the report states. “Based on the facts gathered to date, we do not conclude that the Reynas’ actions rise to the level or would otherwise result in a conviction for extortion.”
Investigators said they “were impressed with Mr. Berhalter’s candor and demeanor during the investigation” and “we were less impressed with the Reynas’ cooperation”.
“It’s just a matter of transparency and honesty,” Gregg Berhalter told the AP. “It was very difficult. It was just about being open.
The report says Danielle Reyna initially declined to discuss the case with investigators in a Dec. 29 phone call, but she called back shortly after and proceeded to say, “I did it” and detailed what she told Stewart 18 days earlier.
Investigators concluded that Claudio Reyna “used his direct line of communication with American football officials to try to obtain benefits or preferential treatment for his children” and he complained “about his son’s playing time , the penalties and suspensions his son received, and selection decisions for U.S. Soccer Camps to try to change those results.
The USSF said the report “identifies the need to review US Soccer’s policies regarding appropriate parental conduct and communications with personnel at the national team level.” We will update these policies.
Dan Segal, Claudio Reyna’s agent, said in a statement that the former captain “repeatedly attempted to arrange to provide information and respond to all questions and allegations”.
Berhalter’s new spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, did not immediately comment.
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