Kim Wyant, pictured as an NYC coach in 2018, said about the incidentt: “The behavior was absolutely appalling and embarrassing.” (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer Photo)
By Michael Lewis
During her illustrious career as a player and coach at just about every level of soccer in the United States, Brooklyn City FC head coach Kim Wyant figured that she had seen and heard it all in hundreds, if not thousands of games.
But it wasn’t until Brooklyn City FC’s scoreless draw in a United Women’s Soccer match at Scorpions SC in Massachusetts Sunday night that Wyant heard what she claimed was abusive language from an opposing coach, who allegedly made demeaning and sexist comments to a female referee.
Wyant became incensed when she heard the opposing coach say to the referee after an offside call late in the match: “You don’t have to explain to offsides to me, sweetheart.”
The referee immediately issued a yellow card to the coach.
In a press release that Brooklyn City posted on its website Friday, the former U.S. women’s international goalkeeper and current NYU men’s soccer coach stated: “I know that coaches speak to referees during a game but what I noticed during this game was the aggressiveness and sheer inappropriateness of the statements he was making.
TFW the opposing coach calls the female ref "sweetheart".
We feel it's critical to bring this incident to light because for every incident we are aware of, there are probably 10 more that go unreported.
— Brooklyn City F.C. (@BrooklynCityFC) July 16, 2021
“I thought the referee responded in a professional manner even though she was being directly demeaned by the coach. He was being overtly misogynistic.”
It was not known whether UWS had taken any action against the coach or Scorpions SC.
In that press release, Brooklyn City FC president Jesse DeLorenzo noted that the league had sanctioned the coach, although it was not immediately known what that was.
“We’re happy to see the league take swift action against the offending coach but we feel it’s our role to use our platform and reach to shine a greater light on these issues and hopefully set a positive example within the soccer community for others to follow,” he said in a statement.
The league did not respond to an email by 8 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither did Scorpions SC director Evan Burokas. Scorpions SC joined the league in January.
Scorpions SC, which joined the league in January, finished fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 5-2-3 mark and 18 points. However, the team isn’t competing in the conference playoffs, which began Friday night. The fifth-place Lancaster Inferno (4-2-4, 16) participated.
Located in South Shore, Mass., Scorpions SC has produced several top-notch players. The best known are the Mewis sisters, Kristie and Sam, who will perform for the USWNT at the Tokyo Olympics starting next Wednesday.
Teams rarely issue press releases on incidents concerning opposing teams and coaches, but Brooklyn City (3-4-3, 12) officials felt that they were obligated to make a statement and take a stand.
“We feel it’s critical to bring this incident to light because – as the sad cliche goes – for every incident we are aware of, there are probably 10 more that go unreported,” DeLorenzo said in a statement. “The reaction from our players to his comments during the game highlighted the seriousness of his behavior.”
“It’s especially important when the majority of coaching staff in our women’s leagues continue to be dominated by men. The levels of social awareness collectively need to be much higher.”
Midfielder Megan Brock, one of Brooklyn FC’s leaders, backed up Wyant’s assertions.
In a July 12 email to Wyant, Brock shared her reaction, saying the Scorpions coach’s comments “was so overtly misogynistic.”
Brock wrote that she was the person who said “Wow,” in the video.
“This type of condescending sexist language is frankly unacceptable in any workplace, but especially a women’s soccer league,” she wrote. “If we are still hearing comments like this on the field, how can we expect to advance on all the other things in women’s sports that need work?”
In her email, Brock also wrote while not making any judgments about Scorpions players, she “would not play for a coach that said something like that in a game. I would be concerned about the underlying misogyny every other day.”
“I have been proud to be a part of a team and league that advances women’s soccer and treats women with the respect they deserve. I was not proud on Sunday and I think we can and should be better than that.”
Wyant is one of the most respected coaches and players. She is considered a soccer pioneer on several levels. The Florida native was the first USWNT goalkeeper. She played in goal for two W-League championship teams with the Long Island Lady Riders. She also coached and was general manager of the club. Most recently, Wyant has guided the New York University men’s team as one of the few women who coach a male college soccer squad.
“It bothers me that I witnessed this behavior in a female soccer game, in a female league, by a male coach that is leading a female squad,” she said in a statement. “What is sad about the situation is that he felt completely comfortable saying all that.”
Wyant later elaborated on the incident to FrontRowSoccer.com, saying that the insults started 10 minutes into the game, “where he was just starting to bully the referee,” she said.
Before the start of the second half, Wyant spoke to the fourth official about her concerns. She felt the Scorpions coach was “influencing the subject in a way that’s going to work against us.”
It reached a fever point when the Scorpions coach said to the referee late in the match, “You don’t need to explain offsides to me, sweetheart.”
“There is no way he would have said [that] to a male referee. The only reason he did it is because she was female,” Wyant said. “And the only reason he did it is because he felt totally comfortable saying it.”
Coaches have gotten on game officials’ cases for years, but Wyant said she had not seen anything like this..
“I’ve been in many soccer games,” she said. “I’ve committed my fair share of run-ins with the referee. I am no angel.”
She was correct. A week prior on July 4, Wyant was red carded at the end of Brooklyn’s 3-2 loss to NJ Copa while disputing a non-call.
But last Sunday was different, Wyant felt the comments she heard went well over the line on what coaches usually say to referees.
“It was uncontrollable for me at that point,” she said. “I walked over to his bench, and I basically said as loud as I could, ‘That is the most sexist comment I’ve heard from a coach that’s leading a female team. I demanded to him at that moment that he showed respect to the center referee.’
“The behavior was absolutely appalling and embarrassing. It was embarrassing for me, as the opposing coach. Everybody heard it in the stands, boyfriends of players on the field, parents of players on the field. Everybody heard it. And I’m thinking to myself, well, he just doesn’t care, or he doesn’t think it’s sexist or misogynistic.”
Several days after the incident, Wyant said that she hadn’t heard anything from Scorpions SC or its coach.
“I know that in the heat of the moment some things can get said,” she said. “I regret saying that. You just go home. You’ve reflected on it for 10 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, and then you go about making amends. Right, owning up to owning up to mistakes that that were made. Minimum, I was thinking I would receive, the league would receive, my players would receive a statement from the coach apologizing for his behavior for what he said. I haven’t seen any of that.”
Wyant later added: “I don’t see any maliciousness, in terms of we’re trying to take this person down. We’re just saying probably like enough is enough. If we don’t speak out, if people don’t speak out, change will not happen.”