Arbitration panel rules Keller has no grievance regarding her exclusion.CHICAGO (Monday, May 10, 1999) -- Debbie Keller lost her attempt to be included in the United States women’s residency camp as the team prepares for the Women’s World Cup that starts next month.
An arbitration panel in here ruled that the United States Soccer Federation acted appropriately in selecting its roster for the preparatory camp.
After not being selected to the team's 26-player residency camp in January, Keller, a striker whose 14 goals were second for the U.S. in 1998, filed an action on February 26, challenging the USSF’s decision. She claimed her exclusion was in retaliation for the $12 million law suit Keller and teammate Melissa Jennings filed alleging harassment, unwanted advances and other improprieties by Anson Dorrance, the women’s coach at University of North Carolina. That suit has yet to be heard in Chicago, where Keller resides in the suburbs.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the result, but we recognized from the outset it was an uphill battle," Keller's Washington-based lawyer, Dane Butswinkas told Associated Press. "In essence, we were asking three arbitrators, who are not experts in soccer, to intervene and reverse a decision of the United States national team."
Dorrance was once the U.S. head coach and eight current or former UNC players are now with the team as it prepares for the Women’s World Cup. Virtually every one of those players signed a letter supporting Dorrance in the case.
After four days and hearing more than 10 witnesses last week, the arbitration panel found no retaliation. Arbitrators Mark Crane, Dan Burns and Herbert Channick conveyed the decision orally, though a written decision might follow.
"With this matter behind us, our players, coaches and administrative staff can continue to focus on the most important task at hand, which is winning the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup on July 10 in Pasadena, Calif.," USSF secretary general Hank Steinbrecher said. "U.S. Soccer has supported our coaches throughout this process, understanding that the selection of a team is very subjective in nature and never an easy task. We are happy that the rbitrators have shown the trust in our coaches was well-placed."