For the second time this month, members of a Vancouver Whitecaps supporter group walked out of the stands in BC Place to protest the club’s response to abuse allegations against a former women’s soccer coach.
Saturday’s afternoon match between the Whitecaps and Philadelphia Union was interrupted at the 35-minute mark when members of the Vancouver Southsiders left en masse for the stadium concourse.
The protest followed a similar walkout staged on April 17 by the Southsiders and members of the Curva Collective.
Several social media posts chronicled Saturday’s protest, showing a crowd of supporters singing and chanting while a drummer kept time.
Southsiders spokesperson Paul Sabourin-Hertzog said the continued walkouts are meant to inspire change at the top of the Whitecaps organization.
“We hope our repeated action will be supported by as many people as possible now that more are aware of the issue,” he said Saturday.
Allegations against 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.
More allegations came out in a statement issued on April 1 from a group of players of Canada’s under-20 women’s national team from 2008.
WATCH: (Aired April 18) Southsiders stage protest at Vancouver Whitecaps game
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.
Following the publication of McCormack’s blog post, a Surrey-based soccer club associated with the coach said a coach had been suspended.
In the wake of the April blog post and ahead of the original walkout, the Whitecaps issued a statement saying it was in “active communication with the VPD” and is “initiating an independent third-party review of its respectful workplace policies procedures.
“As the matter is now with the authorities we encourage anyone with information that may be helpful to reach out to VPD directly,” the team said.
The club did not respond to Global News’ requests for comment Saturday.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Sabourin-Hertzog met with club executive and ownership staff to discuss his concerns. While he said he liked what he heard, pressing on with the protest was important until the club’s words turn into actions, he said.
“They say they’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, which I’m sure they have been,” he said, adding the team has yet to address the seriousness of the allegations directly and the pain suffered by the survivors.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re commenting publicly on this situation,” Sabourin-Hertzog added.
— With files from Paul Johnson