OL Reign have confirmed that Head Coach Farid Benstiti has resigned from the club “with immediate effect”. This announcement comes less than eight hours before the Reign’s match against the Dash in Houston. The team provided no clear reasoning behind the abrupt resignation.
“We are appreciative of Farid’s many contributions to the club over the past 18 months and wish him the best in all his future endeavors,” said CEO Bill Predmore. “We have great respect for Farid’s talents and all he brought to the organization, but in our recent conversations there was a collective agreement that new leadership was required to achieve the performances and results needed to satisfy our ambitions.”
Farid Benstiti has resigned as head coach of OL Reign, effective immediately. Assistant coach Sam Laity, who has been with the club since its inaugural season in 2013, will serve as interim head coach until a permanent replacement is named.
— OL Reign (@OLReign) July 2, 2021
Benstiti’s tenure at OL Reign ends after 18 months. While the Reign have signed top players, such as Rose Lavelle and Dzsenifer Marozsán in the past year, the team’s performance under Bensiti has been lackluster. During his tenure, OL Reign earned 6 wins, 9 losses, and 5 draws across all competition. In the 2021 regular season, the team holds a 2-4-1 record.
In his long history of coaching top women’s sides, including Olympique Lyonnais Féminin and Paris Saint-Germain Féminin (PSG), Benstiti has had some controversies. United States National Team member Lindsey Horan has said that Benstiti and his staff bullied players for their looks and weight. In a March 2021 interview with the podcast, Butterfly Road, Horan describes being publicly shamed by Benstiti despite being one of the fittest members on the team.
“My weight was significantly down, and we did our preseason fitness test, and I absolutely killed it,” said Horan in the podcast. “I killed everyone, there was maybe one person that was close to me but I was so proud of myself, I’m like, ‘I got to this point, I’m the fittest player on this team.’
“He then announced to the team: ‘Lindsey, your weight is not good enough, your body fat is still too high. You’re not going to play in a game until that’s done.’
“I started shaking I was so mad.”
For his part, Benstiti told the Equalizer that he couldn’t recall any of the incidences described by Horan.
“I do not recall the exact situations that Lindsey is referring to,” Benstiti wrote. “The comments she made were a surprise to me when I learned about them. I can not say for certain, but I am assuming that she is referring to talks that I had (or the medical staff had) to the team and players on the importance of fitness and nutrition.
In the meantime, the club has announced that Assistant Coach Sam Laity will take over on an interim basis. Laity has been with the Reign since the team’s inaugural season in 2013.