Rory Dames resigns amid abuse allegations

Less than 24 hours after Rory Dames’ sudden resignation as Red Stars coach, the Washington Post published a report Monday detailing claims of Dames’ verbal and emotional abuse of his players.

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Rory Dames led the Red Stars to six consecutive playoff appearances (2015-2019, 2021) and three straight title matches.

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Less than 24 hours after Rory Dames’ sudden resignation as Red Stars coach, the Washington Post published a report Monday detailing claims of Dames’ verbal and emotional abuse of his players. 

According to the Post, the mistreatment led some players to request a trade. Dames, who joined the Red Stars in 2011 and was the longest-tenured coach in the NWSL, also was accused of crossing the line of a standard player/coach relationship. 

The Red Stars announced Dames’ resignation late Sunday, one day after they lost the league title game against the Washington Spirit 2-1 in extra time. Dames led the Red Stars to six consecutive playoff appearances (2015-2019, 2021) and three straight title matches.

In a statement, Dames said in part, “Effective [Sunday], I’m refocusing my attention to my family and future endeavors, and I am resigning as coach of the Chicago Red Stars.”

In notes gathered for a formal complaint about Dames and reviewed by the Post, Christen Press shared her experience playing for the Red Stars. She first expressed concerns in 2014.

“I think Rory emotionally abuses players,” Press wrote. “He doesn’t have a safe distance between himself and his players. He uses his power and status as the coach to manipulate players and get close to them.”

The allegations include Dames questioning a player’s ability as a mother and mocking players’ intelligence and personal lives. 

The Red Stars released a statement Monday night: “We stand with the players who are fiercely advocating for change, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure a safe environment for the League’s players, staff, volunteers and fans.

“In conjunction with our players, the Chicago Red Stars several weeks ago initiated an independent review of player health and safety and the team’s culture and work environment.

“We intend to implement any recommendations in that review that will strengthen our ability to empower our players, to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, and to foster an environment of continual growth.”

With the Post’s report, Dames became the fifth male coach accused of misconduct in a year of turmoil for the young soccer league.

All year, players have demanded that the league prioritize their safety. In October, the NWSL Players Association created a list of eight demands after a report by The Athletic in which former players accused former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion. 

One of the demands was that every coach, general manager, Board of Governors representative and owner submit to an independent investigation into abusive conduct. 

The demands came after U.S. Soccer announced its own investigation into the NWSL led by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.  

“The most important thing at the end of the day is that players feel safe,” Dames told the Sun-Times before the Red Stars’ playoff match against Gotham FC on Nov. 7. “As coaches, we’ve followed their lead as the players. They’ve been really good at when it’s time to go onto the field and train, play at being able to put their attention and focus there.” 

Dames is still president of Eclipse Select Soccer Club. 

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