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U.S. Soccer investigates Gregg Berhalter 1991 domestic violence incident

Dec 3, 2022; Al Rayyan, Qatar; United States of America manager Gregg Berhalter acknowledges fans after losing a round of sixteen match against the Netherlands in the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Khalifa International Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that it has hired a law firm to open an independent investigation into an allegation that U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter kicked his girlfriend in the legs in 1991.

Berhalter, in a statement Tuesday afternoon, confirmed that he kicked his now-wife Rosalind Berhalter when they had been dating for four months in college and said his actions “would shape the future of our relationship.”

He further claimed that it was a case of blackmail — that the person who contacted U.S. Soccer said the information would “take (Berhalter) down.”

U.S. Soccer said in its own statement that it learned of the accusation on Dec. 11, 2022 — eight days after the Americans were eliminated from the Qatar World Cup — and hired Alston & Bird LLP for the probe. The federation added that it has since “learned about potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization,” likely a reference to the blackmail.

“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 wrote in part.

“There are zero excuses for my actions that night; it was a shameful moment and one that I regret to this day. At that time, I immediately apologized to Rosalind, but understandably, she wanted nothing to do with me. I told my parents, family and friends what happened because I wanted to take full responsibility for my behavior. Rosalind also informed her parents, family and friends. While the authorities were never involved in this matter, I voluntarily sought out counseling to help learn, grow and improve — one of the most valuable decisions that I ever made. To this day, that type of behavior has never been repeated.”

Berhalter said that Rosalind reached back out to him seven months later and they decided to “rebuild our relationship.”

“I am sharing this story after 31 years because it’s important to understand it was an event that shaped me, but doesn’t define me. It was a single, isolated event over three decades ago and a terrible decision made in a bad moment by an 18-year-old,” Berhalter wrote.

Berhalter said he and his wife have fully cooperated with the investigation.

ESPN reported that Berhalter’s contract with U.S. Soccer expired on Dec. 31. The federation said in its statement that it will announce “in the coming days” who will serve as head coach for the USMNT camp in January. The team is scheduled to play friendlies against Serbia and Colombia on Jan. 25 and 28 in the Los Angeles area.

“We appreciate Gregg and Rosalind coming forward to speak openly about this incident,” U.S. Soccer’s statement said. “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.”

Berhalter, 49, has served as the USMNT’s head coach since 2018 after five years coaching the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. He played in Europe and for the Los Angeles Galaxy during his professional playing career from 1993-2011.

–Field Level Media