Red Stars owner to sell team after report of abuse in NWSL

Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler announced Monday he is selling his stake in the team following an investigation that found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the National Women's Soccer League.

Whisler's decision comes two months after the team's board of directors voted to remove him as chairman and forbid him from participation in team operations. Players also called on him to sell the team.

Whisler said in a statement he made the decision to sell the team after 15 years "with a heavy heart."

"I have proudly poured our hearts, time, resources and efforts into founding the NWSL and transforming the Chicago Red Stars into one of the top women's soccer clubs in the world," he said. "It is clear now that we needed to provide greater support for our players and we deeply regret that we didn't do more sooner."

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and the law firm of King & Spaulding released results in early October of an investigation that detailed the series of abuses and misconduct that impacted multiple teams in the league, including the Red Stars. The report stated that Whisler was aware of the emotional and verbal abuse by former coach Rory Dames dating to 2014 and dismissed the complaints by players.

Dames resigned following the 2021 season when The Washington Post published allegations of verbal and emotional abuse. Dames was one of five NWSL coaches who either were fired or resigned last season amid allegations of misconduct.

Whisler said his group is working with New York City investment bank Inner Circle Sports to facilitate the sale and will try to find ownership that "represents the diversity of Chicago."

Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson announced last week he is putting the team up for sale, and coach Rhian Wilkinson resigned following a request by players. Wilkinson said she was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and its players union after she self-reported that she and a player had developed feelings for one another but never acted upon them.

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