U.S. men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter was allegedly blackmailed by the prominent parents of a team member over his lack of playing time at the recently completed World Cup.
The LA Times reported that Danielle Reyna and her husband Claudio, who are the parents of American forward Giovanni Reyna, admitted to several media outlets that they revealed a 1991 incident to U.S. team officials.
Specifically, the couple told U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart of a physical altercation between Coach Berhalter and his now-wife Rosalind. The parents were reportedly upset over their son’s lack of playing time in Qatar and Berhalter’s reference to “internal issues” within the team.
Their son was reportedly nearly sent home from the tournament after issues erupted.
Former US soccer star Claudio Reyna, wife exposed in alleged Gregg Berhalter World Cup blackmail scheme https://t.co/XGLrxvUgK7 pic.twitter.com/84Cn790C2M
— New York Post (@nypost) January 4, 2023
The Times noted that his mother admitted to calling Stewart “just after the news broke that Gregg had made negative statements about my son Gio at a leadership conference.” She added that she considered the coach to be a “close friend” and was “outraged and devastated” by his statement.
She is a former USWNT player who was also roommates with Berhalter’s wife Rosalind while at North Carolina.
Claudio Reyna, an acclaimed international soccer star and former member of the USMNT, also threatened to make the claims public. That was reported by ESPN, though he denied the charge.
Berhalter, who has coached U.S. Soccer since 2018, acknowledged the 1991 incident. He said he’d just turned 18 and was a college freshman when he met Rosalind. After dating for four months, they were out drinking at a bar when an argument ensued.
He said the altercation moved outside where “it became physical and I kicked her in the legs.”
Berhalter admitted to being wrong three decades ago and said that Rosalind wanted nothing further to do with him. Authorities were never involved, but he sought counseling and after several months reconciled with his former girlfriend.
They recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
His contract with U.S. Soccer expired at the end of last year, and his future with the team is uncertain. The organization issued a statement confirming that they are investigating the matter and “take such behavior seriously.” They added that they condemn “violence of any kind.”