The U.S. soccer landscape was rocked Tuesday afternoon after a series of statements unveiled that men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter kicked his wife 30 years ago—an incident he claims a blackmailer used to try and get him sacked after the World Cup last month.
In a winding statement Tuesday, Berhalter admitted to kicking his now-wife Rosalind in her legs outside a bar in 1991 during a “heated argument”—an assault he says was a “shameful moment” he regrets to this day.
Authorities weren’t alerted to the incident at the time, but Berhalter said Rosalind—then his girlfriend of four months—dumped him on the spot and wanted nothing to do with him.
Berhalter said he sought counseling after the incident on his own. He and Rosalind reconciled seven months later and have remained together ever since, celebrating 25 years of marriage last weekend.
Berhalter was a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina when the incident occurred. Despite a lengthy playing career and four years as the U.S. Men’s head coach, the abuse was kept under wraps until Tuesday.
It remains unknown what the assault will mean for Berhalter’s future with the national team. He was hired in 2018 to a four-year contract that expired Sunday, and the federation says it will announce plans for its January training camp “in the coming days.“
“We appreciate Gregg and Rosalind coming forward to speak openly about this incident,” U.S. Soccer’s statement said. “... U.S. Soccer condemns violence of any kind and takes such allegations seriously.”
As an explanation for why he was coming clean now, Berhalter said someone contacted U.S. Soccer about a week after the team was knocked out of the World Cup, threatening to dish the dirt on him and get him fired.
“An individual contacted U.S. Soccer, saying that 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,” the statement said.
Shortly after Berhalter released his statement on Twitter, U.S. Soccer announced that it hired Alston & Bird LLP to investigate the allegations—and the supposed blackmailer—once the tip was phoned in on Dec. 11.
U.S. Soccer said the investigation is ongoing, and that it will publicly release its findings when complete.