January 5 – Danielle Reyna, the mother of US midfielder Giovanni Reyna, has come forward saying she told U.S. Soccer of the domestic violence incident involving US coach Gregg Berhalter in 1991.
Berhalter (pictured), whose contract with US team ended at the end of year, had reported he was threatened by a blackmailer at the Qatar World Cup over the incident that took place when he was 18 years old.
In 1991 Berhalter and his then girlfriend (now wife of 25 years) had been drinking at a local college bar when they had a heated argument that became physical and he kicked her in the legs. The blackmailer had threatened to “take down” Berhalter, he said in his statement earlier this week.
Reyna, who is the wife US soccer legend Claudio Reyna, was the room mate of Berhalter’s wife Rosalind and they played together on the same college soccer team at the University of North Carolina as well as for the US national team.
She said she told U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart of the 1911 incident following comments made by Berhalter at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York, just after the US team were knocked out of the World Cup in the Round of 16 by the Netherlands.
In her statement, emailed to Fox and released yesterday (Wednesday), Reyna said: “To set the record straight, I did call Earnie Stewart on December 11, just after the news broke that Gregg had made negative statements about my son Gio. I have known Earnie for years and consider him to be a close friend. I wanted to let him know that I was absolutely outraged and devasted that Gio had been put in such a terrible position, and that I felt very personally betrayed by the actions of someone my family had considered a friend for decades.
“As part of that conversation, I told Earnie 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 continued.
“Without going into detail, the statements from (Tuesday) significantly minimize the abuse on the night in question. Rosalind Berhalter was my roommate, teammate and best friend, and I supported her through the trauma that followed. It took a long time for me to forgive and accept Gregg afterward, but I worked hard to give him grace, and ultimately made both of them and their kids a huge part of my family’s life. I would have wanted and expected him to give the same grace to Gio. This is why the current situation is so very hurtful and hard.”
Berhalter had told the conference that they had a player who was not performing or making the effort as expected in training games or training, nor off the field. “We were ready to book a plane ticket home, that’s how extreme it was,” he said.
US media identified the player as Borussia Dortmund player Gio Reyna who had exploded into the US team in 2020 but did not start a game at the World Cup, only coming on as a substitute in the second half against the Netherlands.
Reyna had apparently acknowledged the issues and had apologised to his teammates in Qatar.
U.S. Soccer have opened a investigation into the matter using law firm Alston and Bird. The investigation includes the incident between the Berhalter and what U.S. Soccer called “potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside or our organization.”
This presumably refers to comments made by Claudio Reyna to US national team staff members. Reyna in his own statement acknowledges his frustration over his son’s “World Cup experience” and that he spoke “with a number of close friends, Earnie and [USMNT general manager] Brian McBride among them… However, at no time did I ever threaten anyone, nor would I ever do so.”
Berhalter is in discussion over a new contract with U.S. Soccer who are undertaking a full technical review following the World Cup.
The US play Serbia and Columbia later this month in friendlies. U.S. Soccer has appointed Anthony Hudson, one of Berhalter’s assistants at the World Cup, to lead the team while the investigation continues.
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