U.S. women's soccer star Wambach pleads innocent to drunk driving charge

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2016 4:12 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) - Former U.S. women's soccer star Abby Wambach pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to driving under the influence of alcohol and was given permission by an Oregon judge to travel out of the state for work reasons, prosecutors said.

Wambach, who helped lead the U.S. women's team to the 2015 World Cup title and retired as the world's leading international goal-scorer, was arrested late Saturday night in Portland.

Portland Police said Wambach, 35, had run a red light in her 2014 Range Rover and was taken to Multnomah County Jail on charges of driving under the influence after failing a field sobriety test. She was later released on her own recognizance.

Wambach, who retired from soccer in October, was not in court for the arraignment and her not guilty plea was entered by a defense lawyer, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Susan O'Connor said.

A judge set an April 26 date for the former Olympic, professional and World Cup player to appear in court for further proceedings in the case.

The judge granted Wambach permission to leave the state for a work commitment, O'Connor said. The soccer star was scheduled to speak at the University of Kentucky on Tuesday evening.

Wambach apologized for the incident in a statement posted on her social media accounts on Sunday.

"I take full responsibility for my actions. This is all on me," Wambach said in the statement, promising not to repeat what she called a "horrible mistake."

On Sunday evening, CNBC reported that officials with the car company Mini, which debuted an ad featuring Wambach and other celebrities during the Super Bowl, are "re-evaluating" the company's relationship with her.

Wambach, a vocal supporter of women's sports, led the U.S. team in scoring in every world championship she played until the Women's World Cup in July 2015.

In that game, Wambach netted the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in the final game of group play. The Americans defeated Japan 5-2 in the championship match, winning their first World Cup title in 16 years.

Having played in four women's World Cup tournaments, Wambach played in two Olympics, winning goal medals in 2004 in Athens, and 2012 in London.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Dan Grebler)