It has come to our attention that an MLive article was published today and included in that piece were several claims by a person being interviewed. GRFC and President Matt Roberts would like to address the current situation with the Barone brothers and Lito Esquivel at this time.
First, thank you for taking the time to read this statement as we have been asked hundreds of times in the last 6 hours ‘what is going on?’ While we made every attempt to keep the situation internal, so as not to make it a public story for scrutiny, we felt we needed to address this story as the person being interviewed in the MLive article today was willing to be casual with the truth. Our goal is not to heighten emotions, but to move past this and focus on the season that starts this week.
Second, the decision to release a player is never made quickly and easily. Several incidents over the past two seasons led us to make that difficult decision. After conferring with our coaches, staff, and several players we decided that the incident after the US Open Cup match in Chicago last week was grounds for release. We attempt to keep team issues internal and away from the public eye as to not embarrass players, but the way the article claimed the club was wrong in their handling of the situation on the field was second hand information given MLive from someone who wasn’t there. Myself, as well as other players, tried to calm the player in question down and after repeated profanities lobbed at us all, we had to resort to anything necessary to get him away from the field before US Soccer fined us for his conduct or the referee decided to red card him and he was banned from further play. We took 36 hours to come to the decision that enough was enough and made the decision to release him.
Third, the other players who are no longer with us made the conscious decision to leave the team after we informed the player being released that it was happening. They were not released or asked to leave the team. We were hopeful that they would see past the emotional side of this decision and continue to represent us on the field, but that was not to be, and we respected their decision. We were told by those players that they did not want to play with GRFC anymore and we wished them well in their future endeavors. We had also informed them they would be released if they chose to play with another team during the 2017 season.
Fourth, we hope that in the future we can welcome the Barone’s or Lito back in to the GRFC family. We have a massive amount of respect for them as players and hope that whatever they put their minds to in this life they are able to accomplish. While this probably isn’t going to happen this season, my hope is that at some point in the future we will see them in the Blue that we all love them wearing.
Lastly, we currently have 27 players on our Men’s roster, 32 players on our Women’s roster, all of whom have chosen to represent West Michigan soccer and our sincere hope is that you will get behind those players as we try to defend our NPSL Conference Title and win a UWS Midwest Championship. Thank you for your time.
Grand Rapids Football Club