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US Football Team in Turmoil

Here’s a question for you: Can a university student be held accountable, after 30 years, for assaulting his girlfriend, then apologizing to her, receiving her forgiveness and marrying her? Is it the right of a football federation to hold one of its members or the coach of a national team accountable for old personal mistakes? Are there mistakes that can be forgiven and others that cannot be forgiven, no matter how long it takes? The American football (soccer) community began looking into these questions in the past few weeks, with the spread of news regarding Gregg Berhalter, the coach of the US national football team, who has been accused of beating his girlfriend many years ago, when the two were studying at the University of North Carolina. The United States Soccer Federation waited for the end of the World Cup to dig into the affair. Ultimately, Berhalter stood in front of the media and admitted to the accusations. He described an argument that arose between him and his wife, Rosalind, when they were younger, in which he kicked her in anger. Berhalter apologized to Rosalind and sought psychological counseling. After seven months of therapy, Rosalind forgave her partner and the two got married. They’ve been together for 25 years and had four children. Berhalter concluded his speech by saying that he had sinned against Rosalind one day and apologized to her, and she accepted his apology. During the remarks, Rosalind was standing next to her husband, confirming that it was an old story that has no effect on their relationship today. However, Berhalter’s appearance before the media wasn’t the end of the story. The US Soccer Federation decided to assign the matter to a legal firm for further investigation. The federation announced that it would publish the results of the investigations as soon as they are completed. The renewal of Berhalter’s relationship with the US national team was postponed, as his contract period ended with the end of the World Cup, and the US federation vowed not to take any decision until after the investigation is completed. One of Berhalter’s assistants was chosen to lead the national team in the preparation camp during the current month. Many Americans are baffled by this story. There are those who believe that anyone who made a mistake must be punished for it, even after 30 years. But there were many who believe that this entire affair didn’t deserve so much attention and uproar, and that the only one who had the right to complain and accuse Berhalter is his wife, Rosalind. Meanwhile, the investigation – and the controversy – continues. – Yasser Ayoub (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)