Canada Soccer statement

Safe Sport

Canada Soccer has the highest regard for the safety of all involved in the game. We commend individuals who have come forward to report allegations of abuse and encourage all who have experienced similar incidents at any level to do the same. We are truly sorry that any player has had to experience such distress and are fully committed to support these individuals and the change required to ensure Safe Sport for all.

Canada Soccer has initiated a transparent, third-party independent investigation of the process that occurred in 2008 that led to the removal of former Women’s U-20 National Team Coach, Bob Birarda. The purpose is to fully understand what occurred and to develop recommendations and best practices for any future investigations to better protect all participants of our sport.

Canada Soccer announced today that it has engaged McLaren Global Sport Solutions, a firm headed by Professor Richard McLaren, OC. Professor McLaren is a world-renowned lawyer, investigator, and integrity expert who was instrumental in the creation of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC). In December 2020, the McLaren Global Sport Solutions’ group released the final report and recommendations for implementing the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS or Universal Code) in Canada. Professor McLaren and his team have extensive experience in investigating misconduct in sport, including the 2016 investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping by the Russian Federation and more recently an investigation of abuse allegations in Mali basketball on behalf of FIBA (International Basketball Federation).

McLaren Global Sport Solutions’ mandate has two parts. First, it will deliver a comprehensive review of the prior investigation related to the 2008 departure of Birarda as Head Coach to understand fully what occurred and develop recommendations and best practices for any future investigations, to better protect our athletes. Second, it will deliver a detailed assessment of Canada Soccer’s current policies and programs that will include the unanimously adopted Canada Soccer Safe Sport Roster (2019) to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect all involved in our sport at every level of the game.

Canada Soccer has granted Professor McLaren full independence in his investigation and will commit to making the key findings of the report and all recommendations made by McLaren Global Sport Solutions public.

The adoption of the Canada Soccer Safe Sport Roster which included the introduction of an anonymous reporting system have been important steps in our ongoing efforts to build the safest environment possible. However, we acknowledge that there is more work to do to protect all participants of our sport and welcome the review by McLaren Global Sport Solutions to guide our future efforts.

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