U.S. Soccer investigation shows Claudio Reyna’s history of interference and complaints over Gio Reyna
The investigation revealed that Reyna complained about how his son was treated as far back as 2016, and sent an expletive-laden text to Stewart dudring last year’s World Cup.
Along with confirming details of Danielle Reyna’s interactions with Earnie Stewart over Gregg Berhalter, the independent report U.S. Soccer commissioned into the scandal confirmed something else that had previously been reported, but not in much detail.
We now know a whole lot more about the nature of Claudio Reyna’s pestering of his ex-U. S. teammates — then-sporting director Stewart, then-U. S. men’s team head coach Berhalter, and then-men’s team general manager Brian McBride — over his son Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time at last fall’s World Cup.
Investigators at the Alston & Bird law firm hired by U.S. Soccer offered anonymity to sources to protect their security, and they got a lot of information. Though all identifying details of those sources are redacted in the investigation’s report, there’s plenty said about Reyna’s messages.
And they aren’t just about the last few months. They date back to 2016, when Claudio tried and failed to get a red card issued to Gio in a game overturned.
Two years later, Claudio complained about a female referee who officiated a game Gio played in: “And in all honest [sic] can we get real and have male refs for a game like this. Its embarrassing guys. What are we trying to prove? A game like this deserves bett[e]r attention.”
One of the report’s sources called that “not appropriate or acceptable” in an email to colleagues at the time.
Stewart confirmed a Fox Sports report that Reyna badgered former U.S. under-17 coach Raphael Wicky during the 2019 under-17 World Cup, where Gio played for the U.S. team.
“He said the complaints were about Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time, inadequate travel arrangements (specifically, not flying business class), and other instances when U.S. Soccer did not meet Mr. [Claudio] Reyna’s standards,”
“Mr. Stewart also provided contemporaneous text messages from this period. Mr. Stewart commented that in his more than 20 years ‘in this business,’ he has never had these types of discussions with other players’ parents.”The investigators wrote.
A separate anonymous source told investigators that Claudio Reyna “expected Gio Reyna to be treated better than other players,” referring to the travel arrangements mentioned above.
Berhalter took major aim at the Reynas too — drawing a major line between two families who had been close for decades. Claudio Reyna was the best man at Gregg’s wedding to Rosalind Santana (now Rosalind Berhalter) 25 years ago, and Rosalind and Danielle Reyna (née Egan) were college soccer teammates and roommates at the University of North Carolina in the 1990s.
“Mr. Berhalter said at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in November 2019, Mr. Reyna texted him about the coach, stating, ‘he’s the worst coach,’”
“Mr. Berhalter said that ‘when things don’t go great for Gio, [the Reynas] pivot and go into attack mode.’ Mr. Berhalter said that what occurred at the 2022 FIFA World Cup was similar to what occurred at the U-17 World Cup.”The investigators wrote.
Those words, the investigators said, came with text messages from Berhalter “that he received from Mr. Reyna in 2019 and 2020 complaining about Gio Reyna’s treatment, travel arrangements, and coaches.”
‘Utter [expletive] joke’
When Gio Reyna didn’t play in the U.S.’ World Cup opener last November against Wales, it became a flashpoint — not just for fans and media, but behind the scenes. Berhalter claimed after the game that Reyna didn’t play because of an injury concern, but it soon became known that there were other reasons.
Stewart confirmed Berhalter’s remarks last December at a leadership conference — meant to be off-the-record, but it ended up reported — in which Berhalter criticized Reyna’s lack of work ethic without naming him.
When Stewart’s turn came, he did not hold back.
“Mr. Stewart told us that Gio Reyna’s performance was poor during a scrimmage game because he ‘walk[ed] around, and mope[d] around the whole time,’”
“Mr. Stewart said although it looked like he [Reyna] might still be injured, he mostly ‘seemed ticked off’ and ‘did not appear to be trying at all.’”The investigators wrote.
Stewart then confirmed the series of meetings that The Athletic reported on in December, and that Reyna was at one point in danger of being sent home from Qatar.
Stewart showed investigators a text he received from Claudio Reyna in the hours after the U.S.-Wales game, a 1-1 tie: “What a complete and utter [expletive] joke. Our family is disgusted in case you are wondering. Disgusted at how a coach is allowed to never be challenged and do whatever he wants.”
McBride showed investigators a text from Reyna that said: “Our entire family is disgusted, angry, and done with you guys. Don’t expect nice comments from anyone in our family about US Soccer. I’m being transparent to you not like the political clown show of the federation.”
McBride further said that he and Stewart met with the Reynas on Nov. 24 — not just the eve of the big U.S.-England game, but Thanksgiving Day back home.
“Mr. McBride commented that such a meeting would not typically occur with parents of players, but they agreed to it as a courtesy to Mr. Reyna given their long friendship and history as former teammates,”
“Mr. McBride informed us that, during the meeting, Mr. Reyna stated, ‘you guys don’t even know what we know about Gregg,’ but offered no additional details.”The investigators wrote.
Tension in the stands
One source relayed that for the U.S.-Wales World Cup game in Qatar, the Berhalter and Reyna families were put on the same bus for the team’s friends and family to take to the stadium. U.S. Soccer staff presumed they’d get along given their long ties.
After Gio didn’t play in the game, Danielle Reyna refused to board the bus she had taken to the stadium, telling someone at the stadium: “I don’t think you understand. I’m not getting back on that bus” [the investigators added the emphasis].
The Reynas ended up boarding a different bus in view of other people in the group.
The next day, one source saw Danielle Reyna approach someone else to offer an explanation. That other person tried to calm the matter, only for Reyna to respond: “No, it’s so much more than that. You’re talking about 40 years of history between us, for something like this to happen.”
The source then recalled Reyna saying “something along the lines of, ‘Once this tournament is over, I can make one phone call and give one interview, and his cool sneakers and bounce passes will be gone.’”
That was a reference to elements of Gregg Berhalter’s fashion sense and sideline demeanor which often went viral on social media during his tenure.
Berhalter told investigators that before the Wales game, his wife and Danielle Reyna “‘had talked every day for decades. And it ended immediately.’ He said in the stands after the match, surrounded by the other families, ‘they didn’t speak.’”
He then added these remarks: “There were 150 people in the Friends and Family program at this year’s World Cup. All were having a great time — except for five people who were absolutely miserable. Those five were cursing, acting horribly. It was the Reynas.”
Source: The Inquirer