- Canada Soccer handled the allegations of sexual harassment against former coach Bob Birarda improperly and failed to keep control of the under-20 national squad.
- Birarda’s connection to the Whitecaps has prompted Major League Soccer to launch its independent investigation.
According to a study released Thursday, Canada Soccer failed to maintain control over its under-20 national team and incorrectly handled the sexual harassment claims against former coach Bob Birarda.
Canada Soccer hired McLaren Global Sport Solution to conduct an impartial investigation. The company interviewed 28 people, including 23 current and past executives and staff members of Canada Soccer. A 125-page report outlining the federation’s flaws was the outcome.
“This study clarifies how the CSA handled the 2008 harassment claims incorrectly. It gives a chronology of events, describes how rules were broken, and represents a practice of not recording decisions that have ultimately led to players’ irritation and resentment, which persists to this day, “says the study.
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According to the study, Birarda misused his authority to “groom, intimidate, threaten, and sexually harass select athletes.”
The U-20 WNT in Vancouver was compartmentalized, the players on the squad had a poor understanding of harassment policies and reporting procedures, and Birarda put on a front, according to the report. Due to his position of authority and influence among the players, he was seen as “untouchable.”
Late in 2008, Canada Soccer cut ties with Birarda.
Birarda, formerly the women’s team coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps, entered a guilty plea to sexual assault and engaging in sexual activity while in a position of authority in February. She is currently awaiting punishment. Four players were included in the claims, which dated from 1988 to 2008.
As a result of Birarda’s affiliation with the Whitecaps, Major League Soccer is now undertaking its independent investigation. Although many under-20 players were present on both squads, the study pointed out that there was no formal agreement between the Whitecaps and Canada Soccer.
Source: CTV News