Claudio, Danielle Reyna latest example of terrible sports parents in USMNT scandal
Bad sports parents are as American as apple pie and Hulk Hogan. These days, viral…
Bad sports parents are as American as apple pie and Hulk Hogan.
These days, viral videos of adults brawling on sidelines, assaulting officials or just plain misbehaving are so common, they could fill a daily slot on SportsCenter.
And then there’s Claudio and Danielle Reyna, the parents of 20-year-old Gio Reyna, who is often touted as the future of the United States men’s national team.
So elite in their plotting, scheming and overreaching on their son’s behalf, they deserve to have their jerseys retired in the bad sports parents hall of fame.
That is the only verdict one could reach after reading the report commissioned by US Soccer into the Gregg Berhalter and Reyna scandal — a debacle that served as an ugly postmortem to a relatively promising World Cup performance in Qatar.
For the uninitiated, the Reynas — upset over their son’s lack of playing time on the world stage — threatened to destroy the USMNT coach’s career by resurrecting, circulating and weaponizing a violent episode from his past.
Though a schism between the Reynas and Berhalter had been brewing since the Wales game, the lunacy truly kicked off after Berhalter, without naming names, revealed that he nearly sent a player home from Qatar because he didn’t meet expectations.
After the comments, which were made at a leadership conference and supposed to be “explicitly off the record,” went public, many deduced that he was referring to Gio. And an angry Danielle called the United States Soccer Federation’s sporting director Earnie Stewart to drop a nuclear bomb.
She told Stewart that Berhalter “beat the living sh-t out of” his then-girlfriend and future wife Rosalind (nee Santana) in an alcohol-fueled incident in 1992.
Furthermore, investigators said Claudio menacingly told another official, “[Y]ou guys don’t even know what we know about Gregg.”
At the time, the Berhalters were freshmen soccer players at the University of North Carolina. The disturbing allegations sparked an independent investigation by law firm Alston & Bird.
Berhalter was forthcoming. He said that in the immediate aftermath, he reported himself to his coach, sought counseling and opted to do community service at a women’s teenage correctional facility in Durham. It was never reported to police.
According to Berhalter’s wife, the violent tangle was an isolated incident.
The same can’t be said for the Reynas’ meddling. The report revealed that Claudio, a former U.S. Captain, had long been a serial nuisance, overstepping boundaries to influence USSF going back to 2016. But the firm concluded the Reynas’ behavior did not rise to the level of extortion.
Maybe it wasn’t criminal, but it was so diabolical and twisted, it could have been a dark thriller scripted by Hollywood.
After all, the couples are longtime friends. Berhalter and Claudio played high school ball together and the latter served as best man at the Berhalters’ wedding. Rosalind and Danielle were teammates and roommates at UNC and remained close.
This should be a cautionary tale to the legions of sharp elbowed, entitled parents who have led to a rot in this country’s youth sports culture.
The attempted hit on Berhalter backfired spectacularly. He emerged looking like the poster boy of contrition — a person of character who is not only fit to lead the US on the field, but even more so off it.
At 19, he made a very bad mistake. He confronted it, owned it and took steps to ensure it didn’t happen again.
People are flawed. And if we’re not allowed to stumble and make amends for our missteps and sins, then what are we even doing here?
Let’s hope the Reynas are afforded the same grace that they were unwilling to extend to Berhalter.
And that their son, who is returning to the USMNT, is able to forge his own path, independent of his helicopter parents.