A Vancouver Whitecaps supporters group – a collective of fans called the Southsiders – staged a walkout during the 35th minute of the team’s Major League Soccer game Wednesday night at BC Place, protesting the team’s handling of allegations of abuse against a former coach.
In a February blog post written by a former player with Canada’s U20 team, allegations of inappropriate conduct were levied against the coach, who left both the ’Caps and the women’s national soccer program a decade ago, and more recently had been coaching a youth girls team with Surrey-based Coastal FC.
Shortly after the allegations, Coastal FC suspended the coach.
On April 1, and again earlier this week, the Whitecaps released a statement on the issue, explaining that the organization was aware of the allegations in 2008 and hired an ombudsman to “do a thorough and impartial investigation into the complaints.”
“Upon conclusion of the investigation, while the Ombudsperson had no recommendations for further action, the club and coach parted ways,” the April 17 statement reads.
The statement was criticized by many – especially fans and supporters online – prompting Wednesday’s walkout, which left a section of BC Place temporarily empty during the Whitecaps 1-0 win over Major League Soccer rival LAFC.
“While the statement does contain some new wording, it does not seem to effectively address the requests made by the former U20 players,” read a statement posted on the Southsiders’ official Twitter account.
“There still seems to be a significant lack of accountability for what occurred in 2008, including that the coach in question was very quickly able to return to coaching young women. The abuses detailed by the former players has yet to be fully acknowledged.”
We have seen the updated statement from @WhitecapsFC. It has been shared with the players that we met with Monday and discussed with them. While the statement does contain some new wording, it does not seem to effectively address the requests made by the former U20 players.
— Vancouver Southsiders (@Southsiders) April 17, 2019
Twice since February, Coastal FC executive director Chris Murphy has told Peace Arch News that the youth soccer club was not aware of past allegations against the coach at the time of his hiring.
Earlier this month, the Whitecaps announced that they had made the Vancouver Police Department aware of the blogs posts that detail the allegations against the coach, and on April 3 the VPD confirmed to PAN that they had “been made aware.”