U.S. Soccer said Wednesday that it would create an anonymous, third-party reporting system to field complaints from employees after more than a dozen current and former staff members castigated the federation for allowing what they said was a “toxic” workplace environment at the organization’s Chicago headquarters.
The announcement, made in a letter to all federation employees, was released less than a day after a New York Times article that, through interviews with current and former employees, substantiated a variety of anonymous complaints posted on a networking website.
“You have a voice and we want to hear it,” U.S. Soccer’s president, Carlos Cordeiro, wrote in the letter, which acknowledged the Times article in its opening sentence.
Details of the new system, set to be run by an outside party apart from U.S. Soccer’s current leadership, would be explained “in the days ahead,” Cordeiro’s letter said. In the meantime, he said, employees could take advantage of an existing reporting hotline handled by U.S. Soccer’s legal department. That system, Cordeiro noted, accepts anonymous complaints.
In the Times article, current and former federation employees described the online reviews as a campaign to alert leaders like Cordeiro and federation board members to a troubled workplace culture in which employees’ comings and goings were monitored, and in which those with dissenting views were either reprimanded or marginalized. One employee described the campaign as “a cry for help.”
The culture, several employees said in telephone interviews, has been allowed to fester under the federation’s longtime chief executive, Dan Flynn, and one of his top deputies, Jay Berhalter.
Flynn has announced his intention to retire, and Berhalter, U.S. Soccer’s top commercial officer, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace him, perhaps as soon as next month.
Cordeiro, whose letter praised Flynn’s 19-year tenure as the chief, said he was personally leading the committee looking for a successor. Before a public announcement on the hire, U.S. Soccer employees will learn the search committee’s decision and the board will confirm the new chief, Cordeiro said in the letter.
“I sincerely hope that we have your confidence to make the right decision,” he added.