San Diego Wave FC rejects ‘inaccurate and defamatory’ statements from former employee

San Diego Wave FC has rejected accusations that “the organization often perpetuated discrimination against women and demonstrated a complete disregard for their long-term mental health.”

The claims were made in a statement posted Wednesday on the X account of former team employee, Brittany Alvarado.

The National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) club described statements about it and its president as “inaccurate and defamatory,” and said it would pursue “all legal avenues available to appropriately address this matter.”

The statement, which is signed by Alvarado, also claimed club president Jill Ellis “fostered an environment where abusive behaviors among her subordinates are allowed to flourish.”

Alvarado also called for the National Women’s Soccer League NWSL to remove Ellis from San Diego and the league, saying the treatment under her has “been nothing short of life-altering and devastating to our mental health.”

CNN cannot verify any of Alvarado’s claims and has reached out to her for comment.

Ellis said Wednesday that mental health is a “priority” at the club and they “have support measures” for any employee that might need it.

“Our staff and I will always honor how someone feels,” Ellis said in a statement to CNN via the club.

“Over time, we have actively responded to employees who have shown or expressed needs related to their mental health. I want to reinforce that Wave FC has a robust Employee Assistance Program that is promoted regularly to employees.

“I will continue to protect former and current employee confidentiality. When allegations of mistreatment have been made, we have taken them seriously and investigated them thoroughly.

“In addition, when appropriate, independent third parties have assisted us in evaluating our workplace. At no time have those evaluations uncovered any wrongdoing by the club.

“What we do is all about fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, and excellence. The false accusations in today’s post are not only personally damaging but also take away from the incredible work and progress we’ve achieved together as a team. It’s important to address this information promptly and effectively.

“Our focus remains on moving forward and continuing to build a strong, unified club.”

Ellis served as the head coach of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) from 2014-2019 where she helped lead the team to two World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019. The 57-year-old was named the inaugural president of the Wave in 2021 ahead of its debut season.

Jill Ellis looks on before the San Diego Wave's game against NJ/NY Gotham FC on June 4, 2023. - Ira L. Black/Corbis/Getty Images
Jill Ellis looks on before the San Diego Wave's game against NJ/NY Gotham FC on June 4, 2023. - Ira L. Black/Corbis/Getty Images

Alvarado, who was a video and creative manager for the club, said she resigned from the club on June 7 and that she received an email 10 days later from an unnamed senior leadership member calling her “the most pathetic person I’ve ever met” and that they were “estatic that you are no longer with the club.”

The Wave called the email “fabricated” and denounced the allegations against Ellis as “categorically false.”

Alvarado also criticized the league, saying it “consistently failed to take meaningful action” and “turned a blind eye to a pattern of profoundly damaging behaviors” within the Wave.

An NWSL spokesperson said in a statement to CNN that the “safety, health, and well-being of everyone associated with our league is our highest priority.

“We take serious any and every report of potential misconduct, hire qualified independent investigators to review those allegations thoroughly, and act when allegations are supported by the facts uncovered.

“We have mandated corrective action in every instance where reports have been corroborated, up to and including the removal of individuals who do not live up to our values and standards.”

The league added that they “encourage anyone with information of potential wrongdoing to report that misconduct to the League Safety Officer. Alternatively, individuals may report anonymously via Real Response, by texting 872-259-6975.”

Current Wave striker and two-time Women’s World Cup winner Alex Morgan said she was “disappointed to hear about the allegations.”

“As players, we have worked hard to build a team that is surrounded by an inclusive, positive and safe environment,” the 35-year-old wrote on X.

“But it’s important to me that we are creating that environment for both players AND staff throughout the entire organization. Equity in the workplace is something I have and will continue to advocate for.

“I want to be proud of what we are building at the Wave but it is clear that there is so much work to be done.”

In December 2022, the NWSL and its players’ union released a 128-page independent investigation report following a 14-month inquiry into accusations of “discrimination, harassment, abuse (physical, emotional or sexual) and retaliation” within the women’s professional league.

The joint investigative team, which included members from two law firms, found “widespread misconduct directed at NWSL players” by those in positions of power.

The report concluded that beyond the previously reported instances of sexual abuse and manipulation, there have been yearslong “volatile and manipulative working conditions” for players that “has occurred at the vast majority of NWSL clubs at various times, from the earliest years of the League to the present.”

The now 14-team league was founded in 2012.

The Wave currently sits in 10th place with a 3-6-6 record and is next scheduled to play on Friday against the Portland Thorns.

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