San Diego Wave’s Jill Ellis denies abusive workplace allegations

San Diego Wave president Jill Ellis called allegations of an abusive work environment made by a former employee of the National Women’s Soccer League team both “false” and “personally damaging.”

Ellis released a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday in response to a social media post by Brittany Alvarado, a former video and creative manager for the team. Alvarado called on the NWSL to remove Ellis, the former U.S. women’s national team coach.

Alvarado alleged the workplace was discriminatory and said it took a toll on her mental health in a lengthy post on X, formerly Twitter.

Ellis said mental health concerns are a priority for the club and it has support measures, including an employee assistance program. She added that when allegations of mistreatment have occurred, the team has investigated.

“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,” Ellis said.

Ellis, who coached the U.S. team to World Cup titles in both 2015 and 2019, added that the Wave is committed to building a strong and unified club.

“What we do is all about fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, and excellence. The false accusations in [Wednesday’s] post are not only personally damaging but also take away from the incredible work and progress we’ve achieved together as a team,” Ellis said in the statement.

The Wave called Alvarado’s allegations inaccurate and defamatory. The team said it was looking into possible legal avenues available to address the matter.

Wave forward Alex Morgan, who played for Ellis on both of the World Cup-winning teams, issued a statement on social media in which she said she was disappointed by the allegations.

“As players, we have worked hard to build a team that is surrounded by an inclusive, positive and safe environment,” Morgan said. “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.”

An NWSL spokesperson told ESPN on Thursday: “The safety, health, and well-being of everyone associated with our league is our highest priority. We take seriously 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.

“We 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.”

An investigation commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2022 and led by former deputy attorney general Sally Yates exposed issues within the NWSL regarding accountability, player safety and a system that failed to address player complaints.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.