Two former players in the Whitecaps youth residency program will now make their first court appearance next Thursday after being charged with sexual assault.
They are accused of assaulting another player in the program after a training session in Burnaby in June.
The club faced criticism from the player’s mother who claimed the team discouraged her from going to police.
READ MORE: Mother claims Whitecaps mishandled sex assault on youth player
“Where they dropped the ball immensely was… not reporting it,” the mother told Global News in June. “I think that the police needed to be called immediately.”
The mother believes the Whitecaps were the first to find out her teenage son was allegedly sexually assaulted but they didn’t act fast enough.
“Our gut instinct was that they were trying to downplay it and protect themselves,” she said. “We felt that they wanted to deal with it internally and not let it get out.”
The players are facing one count each.
The mother said her family moved to B.C. so her son could join the Major League Soccer (MLS) team’s residency program, which aims to develop promising young soccer players who aspire to a professional career.
“This was his dream,” she said. “We felt we had to do everything possible.”
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The alleged victim and both suspects are all under the age of 17.
EXCLUSIVE: Whitecaps youth residency program player allegedly sexually assaulted by teammates, mother claims
The Whitecaps did not answer questions on camera because of the ongoing RCMP investigation, but said in a statement in June:
“A serious incident is alleged to have occurred between some male youth players at our Burnaby training facility last week which was in clear contravention of the club’s code of conduct.
“Two players involved were immediately put on indefinite suspension by the club and the matter was referred to the RCMP. The safety and well-being of our players is our top priority and we have been cooperating fully with the RCMP investigation.”
In a statement issued on July 12, the Whitecaps confirmed the two players in question had been released from the club.
“The club has completed an internal review of the serious incident which took place last month between some male youth players at our Burnaby facility. Two youth involved, who were previously on indefinite suspension, have been released from the club.
The safety and well-being of our players is our top priority and we are deeply committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect.
As the matter remains before the courts, the club will have no further comment at this time.”
WATCH: The Vancouver Whitecaps are in damage control tonight after Global’s exclusive story of how a member of the team’s residency program was sexually assaulted by teammates. Rumina Daya has a follow-up.
-With files from Jon Azpiri