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U.S. Soccer launches investigation surrounding alleged blackmail of Berhalter

In confusing series of statements, USMNT coach admits to a 31-year-old domestic violence incident with his wife and U.S. Soccer announces ongoing investigation into the attempt to leverage that.

Netherlands v USA: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/Getty Images

U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday they have opened an investigation, following a public announcement from Gregg Berhalter that he was the target of a blackmail plot. In his announcement, Berhalter admitted a single incident of domestic violence against his now-wife when they were college students.

Berhalter created a social media account on Tuesday, and on it shared a domestic violence issue from his past amid a claim of a recent attempt to blackmail him.

According to Berhalter, who apparently released the statement alongside his wife, Rosalind, when he was 18 and a freshman at the University of North Carolina, “One night, while out drinking at a local bar, Rosalind and I had a heated argument that continued outside. It became physical and I kicked her in the legs.”

Berhalter’s statement continues, “There are zero excuses for my actions that night; it was a shameful moment and one that I regret to this day.” His statement later adds “To this day, this type of behavior has never been repeated.”

The statement continues to say that Gregg and Rosalind got married, have since celebrated 25 years of marriage and raised four children together, with no additional intimate partner violence.

The reason for the sudden announcement regarding this incident came because Berhalter alleges, “During the World Cup, an individual contacted U.S. Soccer, saying that they had information about me that would ‘take me down.’” Shortly after, U.S. Soccer released a statement about an ongoing independent investigation on the matter.

It is unclear if U.S. Soccer previously knew about the violent incident between Berhalter and his future wife, and the investigation appears to be centered around the blackmail and other attempts against staff members, but Berhalter is officially out of contract right now. According to the U.S. Soccer statement on the investigation they have commissioned, it notes, “U.S. Soccer will announce who will lead the January Men’s National Team camp in the coming days,” which appears to indicate Berhalter will not be coaching the USMNT in the immediate term, if ever again. It is unclear how or if the investigation influenced Berhalter’s current status.

U.S. Soccer Statement Regarding USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

Upon learning of the allegation against U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter on Dec. 11, 2022, U.S. Soccer immediately hired Alston & Bird LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the matter. The investigation is being led by Jenny Kramer, BJay Pak and Chris Marquardt of Alston & Bird LLP and remains ongoing. 

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.

We appreciate Gregg and Rosalind coming forward to speak openly about this incident. Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we will share the results of the investigation publicly when it is complete. U.S. Soccer condemns violence of any kind and takes such allegations very seriously.

Last month, U.S. Soccer launched a full technical review of our Men’s National Team Program. With the review and investigation ongoing, U.S. Soccer will announce who will lead the January Men’s National Team camp in the coming days. We look forward to building off the performance in Qatar and preparing for the journey towards 2026.

This is the second independent investigation U.S. Soccer has commissioned in recent years, following the Yates Report, which tackled gross misconduct in the NWSL and a culture of apathy in preventing abusive conduct by U.S. Soccer while they ran the league from 2013-21.