San Diego Wave Football Club Accused Of Fostering Toxic Work Environment

July 3, 2024

A former employee of the San Diego Wave has raised serious allegations on social media, accusing the club of perpetuating discrimination against women and neglecting employees' long-term mental health. The club has strongly denied these claims.

Brittany Alvarado, a former video and creative manager for the Wave, alleged on her social media account that the club has seen over 30 employees either fired or quit since its inception, with nearly 75 percent being women. She attributes this to a toxic work environment purportedly fostered by Wave president Jill Ellis. Alvarado’s post calls for Ellis to be removed from her position. Alvarado alleged "devastating" mental health impacts for herself and other employees and claimed Ellis "has no place in this game."

"San Diego Wave was ostensibly founded on principles of equity, championing women and minorities in leadership, and prioritizing mental health and well-being," Alvarado wrote in her lengthy social media post. "Yet, the reality for myself and many others working for this club starkly contradicts these claims. Despite its public proclamations, the organization often perpetuated discrimination against women and demonstrated complete disregard for their long-term mental health." 
Alvarado started working for the Wave in March 2023 and resigned on June 7, 2024. The Wave responded on social media, denying the allegations and stating that they are reviewing the situation and considering legal action to address the matter. Wave captain Alex Morgan responded on social media expressing her disappointment in the allegations and relayed the importance of fostering "an inclusive, positive, and safe environment for all players and staff."

"San Diego Wave has been made aware of a recent social media post by a former employee that contains inaccurate and defamatory statements about the club," read a statement issued by San Diego Wave.  

Alvarado further claims that the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has not fully implemented the recommendations from the 2022 investigative reports led by Sally Yates and the joint NWSLPA, which highlighted systemic issues within the league and its clubs. Following Alvarado's accusations, two additional former employees have come forward with similar claims.  

The Wave recently fired head coach Casey Stoney on June 24, despite her rather successful track record. While Alvarado did not directly link Stoney’s firing to her own departure, she noted Stoney as a positive influence in her post.

The NWSL emphasized its commitment to the safety and well-being of everyone in the league, stating that they take all reports of misconduct seriously and act accordingly when allegations are supported by facts.

Prominent figures like Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan have also expressed their concerns. Leroux, a former United States Women's National Team player, has previously criticized Ellis’s leadership, and Morgan highlighted the need for an inclusive and safe environment for both players and staff at the Wave.

In 2020, Leroux told The Crack Podcast: "I liked her as a person, not (as a coach). … We won in spite of [Ellis]. She’s not good for people’s mental health, that’s for sure. The best thing was for her to go." 

These allegations have brought to light significant issues within the San Diego Wave, raising questions about the club's internal culture and leadership