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San Diego Wave president Jill Ellis responds to allegations of mistreatment

Photo of an NWSL match ball at Snapdragon Stadium.
Photo Copyright Orlando Ramirez for USA TODAY Sports

Content warning: This story mentions suicide and allegations of workplace abuse. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

San Diego Wave FC president Jill Ellis responded on Thursday to allegations that the Wave created a hostile working environment, calling them “false” and “personally damaging” in a statement to The Associated Press.

“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 accusations arose in a social media post by Brittany Alvarado, who previously worked as a video and creative manager for the Wave. In her post on X, Alvarado wrote, “Despite its public proclamations, the organization often perpetuated discrimination against women and demonstrated a complete disregard for their long-term mental health.”

She also called on the NWSL to “take immediate action to remove Jill Ellis from both the San Diego Wave and the league entirely to finally protect the staff and players they have neglected and ignored for far too long.”

The Wave responded with a statement of their own on X saying the post “contains inaccurate and defamatory statements about the club” and calling the claims “categorically false.” The statement also accused Alvarado of fabricating an email from a club employee that Alvarado posted to social media and said it “intends to pursue all legal avenues to appropriately address this matter.”

Other former Wave employees have since spoken out detailing personal struggles with their mental health, including Abigail Lozano, who worked as a community relations coordinator.

Alvarado shared additional posts from Jenny Chuang and Bernadette O’Donnell, both of whom also commented on their time with the organization. Chuang, a freelance photographer based in Los Angeles, said that she was placed on suicide watch during her tenure with the Wave and “pressured to resign.” O’Donnell said that she discussed her mental health with supervisors and was terminated.

Wave forward Alex Morgan, who also played for Ellis on the U.S. women’s national team from 2014 to 2019, also posted a statement saying in part, “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.”

Sydney Leroux, who also played for Ellis on the USWNT, voiced her support for Alvarado in a series of posts on X.

The allegations against Ellis and the club follow her surprising decision on June 24 to part ways with head coach Casey Stoney, who led the Wave to a 24-18-16 regular-season record. San Diego won the 2023 NWSL Shield and 2024 Challenge Cup under her direction. Stoney had signed a multi-year extension in January 2024, which would have kept her with the club through 2027 with an option for 2028. 

More recently, though, the club was winless in seven games and ninth in the league standings with 15 points. San Diego went 3-6-5 to start the season.

Ellis responded on June 25 in a press conference, calling the decision an “inflection point.” Stoney posted on X a few days later, “I am bitterly disappointed that I wasn’t given the time to bring a Championship to San Diego.”

San Diego general manager Molly Downtain also recently departed the club in April. Camille Ashton was named sporting director and GM on June 12, but Ellis confirmed that Ashton did not play a role in the decision to part with Stoney. Ashton previously worked with the Kansas City Current.

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