United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) head coach Gregg Berhalter was forced to disclose details of a domestic violence incident that occurred in 1991 after allegedly being blackmailed during the 2022 World Cup.
Berhalter disclosed the details in a lengthy Twitter post on Tuesday, saying an unnamed individual contacted the U.S. Soccer Federation during the tournament and said “they had information about me that would ‘take me down’ — an apparent effort to leverage something very personal from long ago to bring about the end of my relationship with U.S. Soccer.”
In the post, Berhalter admitted that a physical altercation occurred in 1991 with his now-wife, Rosalind, outside a bar when both were 18.
During the altercation, Berhalter said he kicked Rosalind in the legs. The incident was never reported to the authorities, and Berhalter said he sought counseling.
The couple later resumed their relationship and were married in 1999.
“There are zero excuses for my actions that night; it was a shameful moment and one that I regret to this day,” Berhalter wrote.
On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer confirmed that the organization had been notified of the incident on December 11 by the parents of Gio Reyna, one of the players on the USMNT under Berhalter, and that an investigation had been initiated.
On December 10, Berhalter commented during a leadership summit that a player on the team did not work hard enough or take the games seriously, which led to him having a diminished role. Though Berhalter never named the player, it was later revealed that Berhalter was speaking about Reyna.
Reyna issued a statement after that revelation, saying he was upset about being informed that he would have a small role in the World Cup and he let his emotions get the better of him.
It appears that the punishment for Reyna’s reported behavior led to his mother, Danielle Reyna, contacting U.S. Soccer with the allegations of domestic violence against Berhalter. Gio’s father, Claudio, is a former star USMNT player who grew up with Berhalter and is his close and personal friend.
Danielle Reyna explained in a statement that she never intended for her comments to U.S. Soccer to be made public and that she only wanted people to stop talking badly about her son.
“As part of that conversation, I told [U.S. Soccer Sporting Director] Earnie [Stewart] that I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age,” her statement reads. “At the time I called Earnie, many people were trashing Gio on social media due to Gregg’s comments, and I didn’t know when or if this would stop. I just wanted Earnie to help make sure that there would be no further unwarranted attacks on my son.”
“I thought our conversation would remain in confidence,” her statement continues. “It didn’t occur to me at the time that anything I said could lead to an investigation. But I want to be very clear that I did not ask for Gregg to be fired, I did not make any threats, and I don’t know anything about any blackmail attempts.”
In a statement, U.S. Soccer said it is conducting an investigation through a third party. The law firm Alston & Bird, LLP, has been tapped to lead the independent investigation.
U.S. Soccer stated that the outcome of the investigation would be made public when completed.
“Last month, U.S. Soccer launched a full technical review of our Men’s National Team Program,” the statement reads. “Through this process, U.S. Soccer has learned about potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization. We take such behavior seriously and have expanded our investigation to include those allegations.”
Berhalter’s contract as head coach of the USMNT expired on December 31. The organization has yet to announce who will lead the team in the future, but Berhalter is still being considered to remain as head coach.
The USMNT will begin January camp with Anthony Hudson as the interim coach. Hudson was the first assistant to Berhalter during the World Cup.