Vancouver Whitecaps contact police amid allegations of harassment, bullying by former women’s coach

Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer team logo.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer team logo. Canadian Press Images-Mario Beauregard

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that BC Soccer had commissioned a third-party review of the allegations in question. In fact, it has commissioned a review of its own policies and procedures. 

The Vancouver Whitecaps say they have gone to the police about allegations of harassment and bullying by a former coach of the women’s team.

The allegations of abuse by the former coach of the Whitecaps women’s team and Canada’s women’s under-20 national team were brought forward by former player Ciara McCormack in a blog post published in February.

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In the post, McCormack said Canada Soccer and the Whitecaps did not adequately address or investigate her concerns.

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Following the publication of the blog post, a Surrey-based soccer club associated with the coach said a coach had been suspended.

More allegations came out this week in a statement from a group of players of the Canada’s under-20 women’s national team from 2008.

The claims include that the coach touched one of the players inappropriately, sent at least one text message that was sexual in nature, and held a private meeting with one of the players in his hotel room.

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Andrea Neil, one of Canada’s most decorated soccer stars, issued a statement last week saying she began hearing “rumours and stories” about trouble within the 2008 U20 squad shortly after her time with the national team ended.

At the same time, the coach was also associated with the Whitecaps.

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The Whitecaps released a statement on Monday, saying complaints were brought forward to senior management at the time and the club immediately brought in an independent ombudsperson to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.

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Following the investigation, the ombudsperson had no recommendations for further action and the club and coach parted ways, according to the statement.

The Whitecaps say there may be new information that did not come to light in 2008 and the MLS club has contacted Vancouver police so they can “assess if further action is required.”

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B.C. Soccer announced last month that it had started an independent third-party review of its policy and procedures to “examine whether there are systemic cultural behaviors affecting the safety of players.” On March 26, BC Soccer said it is expecting to release details of its review within the next few weeks.

In their statement, the group of players say they didn’t come forward until now because they didn’t know the coach in question was still coaching.

“Coaches who have behaved inappropriately with players or who demonstrate a pattern of abusive behaviour, should not be allowed to retain their coaching licences,” the statement said.

Global News has reached out to the coach, the Canadian national team, and B.C. Soccer for comment. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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