Bob Birarda done as Womens Whitecaps/ CSA Womens U-20 Gaffer

Canucks4Ever

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While I suppose that we here do not represent any sort of collective authority, it would seem that we are coming to somewhat of a consensus.

#1
The sexual misconduct allegations are a whole different ball game. It is all hearsay at this point with nothing provable. Lots of inference and innuendo and even, perhaps, opportunity for it to occur, but absolutely nothing concrete at this time. If and when tangible evidence or first hand accounts of sexual impropriety emerge that will change everything and we will evaluate that on its merits at that time. That being said, if there is solid proof, it sounds like we, again, all feel pretty much the same way.

This is the "juicier" part of the story that some media are running with as this story becomes more mainstream. The Province had it on the first page of the sports section today and CBC posted a story online. I believe News 1130, who were, I think, the first to publish an official article about it and also, I believe, had Ciara on to discuss her post, went this way as well. Same with Black Press Media (Peace Arch News/Surrey Leader/etc.); with them all focusing on a "coach at Coastal FC, a BCSPL franchise, having been suspended after allegations of bullying and sexual impropriety surfaced online." None of the publications name the coach as, again, the sexual side of things is only hearsay and there is no official investigation that anyone is aware of at this time. It also fits in with CBC's current wide ranging investigative report on sexual assaults in sport which apparently was part of Ciara's inspiration for posting her blog.

#2
That leaves us with the bullying and cultural issues raised by the blog post. As well as what sorts of investigative measures the club took when players raised an issue about the coach and what overall mechanisms for players who are feeling mistreated there are.

This is the angle the article posted above by @akslop went and it is the first that I have seen that actually names BB. It steers right clear of the sexual angle, mentioning only "inappropriate behaviour" that Ciara felt should have warranted police involvement.

It is also, I think, where we perhaps have room for discussion and disagreement, of which we, as reasonable people, should be capable.

It seems clear that the coaching environment had elements that could lead to a serious abuse of power. According to Ciara, at the time in question the only viable path to the CWNT was through playing for the Whitecaps. This created a "take it or leave it" approach from the coaches and management that arguably held players hostage. Again, I would encourage anyone who has not yet read it to click the link in the blog post to the email that was sent to the player who did not want to live in the arranged accommodations/mentor a new player as it gives decent insight into how the coach handled the situation.

As has been pointed out, the soccer landscape in Vancouver/Canada was vastly different almost a decade and a half ago, especially as it pertained to the women's game. Did the Whitecaps take advantage of extensive unpaid player appearances, particularly by the women's players, to further their brand recognition? Probably. Is that unethical? Maybe. Was it illegal? Unlikely, unless there is solid evidence of extreme conditions that would violate labour laws, etc. Point is, the players tried to do something about it by banding together and were cut down at the knees when management got wind of their plan. Ciara said that terrified them because "they felt they were being watched," but I would be willing to bet that they were most likely ratted out by one of their own. There is always a weak link in the chain and probably their half-baked "union" style attempt did not win over all of their teammates; one or more of whom slipped word to management, most likely in the hopes of currying good will for themselves. It's labour relations 101 and, as I said in my first post, a story as old as time itself.

Then there is the assertion that the club president stabbed them in the back when they went to him for help. Once more, this is tough to agree with entirely. They broke the chain of command by going over the head of their boss, the coach, to the president. They were taking a risk by playing their cards and they knew it. Does it make Lenarduzzi a fiend who double crossed them after they asked to remain anonymous. Sure, if you like. But there's nothing illegal in that. It was his club and if he felt that they were just bad apples or cancers within the team or what have you, then he was entitled to play his hand how he liked. Is he an immoral a**hole for it? I would suggest that comes down to personal opinion. Again though, if they went to him with complaints of a sexual nature then that changes everything. However, the way I read it they were simply complaining about the toxic, "bullying" environment.

Which now bring us to that said environment. Is that an okay way to run your team? Enter every shade of grey we have got, I would venture. At some point, in a professional or national level environment the focus shifts from having fun to winning. Sports are a business and winning pays the bills. There is also something to be said for the fact that those training in high performance environments with hopes of one day reaching those levels need to be prepared for it. As I said before, we all know that not everyone is cut out for it. The crux of it is, however, that these players that are hoping to reach these levels are still just kids, they are still maturing and there is a line in there somewhere. Yes we want them exposed to the rigors of the professional world, but surely there has to be a balance.

There was mention about "old school" tactics a la Alex Fergusion et al. However, the world is changing. The "I'll make a man out of you" approach is no longer considered best practice as sport psychologists and other high performance staff (dietitians, sleep experts, etc.) have shifted things toward the idea that there is a science to sport. Case in point Peter Beardsley was recently released as coach of Newcastle's U23 side amid allegations of bullying: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jan/09/newcastle-peter-beardsley-period-leave

So the world is changing. Yes, coaches still need to be able to "test the metal" of their players and that may require certain creative tactics. Overall, though, it seems the coaching world, in all sports, not just soccer, is moving away from this approach.

#3
Finally there is the effect that the culture in the Whitecaps/CSA circa 2006 had on the players and how this played a role in BB's departure as well as any ongoing internal issues ahead of the shut down of the Whitecaps women's program and his hiring at Coastal.

After banging and banging on the door, these women finally got the investigation into the conduct that they sought. An independent investigation by a third party ombudsman (although Ciara raises questions about exactly how independent the particular investigator was) was conducted and, at its conclusion, BB was let go. That being said, the Whitecap's newly amended statement says that the investigation gave "no recommendations for further action" and that BB and the organization mutually parted ways. Now we all likely know that "mutual" break ups are rarely actually mutual and the case was likely put to BB that he was done, but, if he left quietly, there would be some sort of quid pro quo. Maybe the investigation would not be made public (which it wasn't) or perhaps that the organization would still supply him with a reference (which they may or may not have). It could also be that the investigation was not given the authority to "make recommendations for further action." Regardless, ostensibly the players won and BB was out. Once again though, if that investigation turned up tangible evidence of potential sexual misconduct and the Whitecaps/CSA buried it, then we are in a whole new world. It seems like the easiest way to go about clearing that up would be to release the details of that investigation, but that seems unlikely to happen.

Then there is Coastal hiring BB. They said they did all the due diligence possible at the time (CRC and reference check with the Whitecaps). The Whitecaps say they were never contacted by Coastal. Enough senior brass at Coastal would have had Whitecaps connections to at least back channel or informally check up on the real reasons for the parting of ways, which is why I have a tough time believing that they new of any sexual misconduct allegations and turned a blind eye. If you are Coastal and you have to hire certified coaches to head your teams in the fledgling days of HPL and you have a guy with professional and national team experience looking to coach for you, it has to be tough to say no unless there is some very serious red flags. Presumably Whitecaps/CSA would be the only ones with the ability to provide said red flags so either somewhere somebody dropped the ball or, more than likely, in 2006 nobody thought that a coach who had a falling out with his previous players (again a story as old as time in sports) would turn out almost 15 years later, in the new social awakening of #MeToo and other movements, to be scandal provoking. Especially when, unless the stories begin to come out of the woodwork, there have been no incidents since. I would suggest that if these events were to occur now, with HPL franchises having a larger pool of certified coaches to choose from, there might be a different outcome, but that is just my own thoughts on the matter.

Ciara says there was a broken culture in the Whitecaps program that continued after BB left and was laid bare in 2011 with the story of the coach who flew the player out under false pretenses. Even then, though, she conceded that the landscape had begun to change. The team had more senior players that felt comfortable standing up to coaches and management as well as American players that were not beholden to the club for a shot at the national team. I would venture that the environment has continued to improve. Yes the Whitecaps led REX program is a major development pathway to the national team, but the growing advent of women's professional leagues in North America and Europe means that there are other ways to get there. However, all professional environments in all sports and for both genders will continue to create power imbalances. Where the wrong people get into those positions of power is creates opportunities for abuse for vulnerable young adults who are chasing a dream.

We are learning that we as a society need to do better in ensuring that we take steps to prevent these scenarios from occurring and, when they do occur, find more effective ways of addressing the needs of those being harmed.

I firmly believe that this situation, were it to occur today, would be handled vastly differently. Ciara does not seem to think so. One thing I will say is this feels like more that just a disgruntled player with an ax to grind. You don't harbour something like this for more than a decade without good reason, especially considering that she more or less still achieved all her dreams of playing professionally and at a national level, albeit for Ireland. There is definitely something rotten in here, but whether it is something illegal or just something that is part of a broader social discussion about youth in sport and power dynamics I am not sure yet.

Let the discussion continue...
 
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peg leg

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This story is very upsetting to me. I am more concerned about the bullying aspect. I have a daughter (and son) in the HPL system and have seen how these coaches and TD's do misdirect their power and how many countless girls quit the sport and 'hate' soccer after these experiences. Like Dude, it will take me a day or two to properly relay my thoughts.
 

Dirty Daddy 3

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It takes a very special person to be in a position of influence, in a results based profession to also develop a safe environment for growth. Although I do believe you are innocent until proven guilty but how many here, at this moment in time, would knowingly let their kids play for BB??
 

Canucks4Ever

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finisher

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If people are concerned with his authoritative approach then we have a problem. Do we as a nation want to improve? Do you think over in Europe they are not even more strict than he was? I have played under him and he was assertive, he was demanding, but never in all those years crossed the line from what I've witnessed. As a result, what is the alternative? We let players walk all over the coach because we all want this snowflake culture that's developing in Canada and produce shite teams?

At the time I thought he was a brilliant coach but didn't like him. Although since times gone on I can say I have never had anyone that has been that fair since. He played players on merit and anyone could earn a spot. He was fun when he had to be but most importantly improved EVERY SINGLE player (that doesn't happen from only being strict).

Maybe he's just better suited for boys teams unless allegations of sexual misconduct are true. Which once again begs the questions, where are all these teammates supporting her now?
 

bulljive

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Finisher, what level did he coach you at? Was this in the men’s or women’s game he coached you?
 

Yoda

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@finisher did you read the initial article? It wasn’t really about him being “strict” with the girls teams.
 

finisher

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@finisher did you read the initial article? It wasn’t really about him being “strict” with the girls teams.
Yes, with mens.

I read it all including the linked attachments. She didn't indicate he sexually abused anyone (which is not to say it did or did not happen). Most of her complaining in the blog post seemed to me about his authoritative nature. Since then she's been milking it on twitter. liking every post left right and center in support of her.

End of the day, it would be nice to hear the other side direct from the horse's mouth and then piece together what may have been. Right now it's just assumptions with one side of the story.
 

STD

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I'm pretty sure he either has seen a lawyer or looking for one. If he is completely innocent we'll probably get a statement stating his innocents. If there is something out there that can be seen as improper behavior he'll probably be pretty quiet until the investigation is done.
 

Yoda

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She does reference situations of innapropriate texts and situations. Sexual misconduct no, again not to say it did or didn’t happen, but still not right.

As well there were other authoritative situations where he held power over girls to make them do things isn’t right either.

That’s far from making them run laps or simple yelling at practice.

I guess we’ll just wait and see where it all leads.

For all we know he’s a changed man and everything is different now.
 

mtkb

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Second-hand disclosure is not hearsay.
It's the very definition of hearsay.

If player x told Ciara that BB did something, Ciara's statement cannot be used to prove the truth of the assertion that BB did anything to x - absent one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule applying.

You would need player x herself to make the assertion.

If player x were challenged about having never told anyone about the allegation at the time, then Ciara could be called as a witness to rebut that challenge, and her evidence that she was told and when she was told would be coming from the primary source. But she's still not able to give evidence that proves the original allegation, because again, that question remains something she only has second-hand knowledge of - her evidence is hearsay...
 
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Sir M

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Sorry didn't mean in court, or as proof of truth, meant if it comes from Ciara and she reports it then it can be investigated in the real world.
 
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Yoda

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After this story coming out, for the last couple of days I’ve run into or heard from family and close friends who have in some way been involved with him in the past, and either as players have told similar stories to the ones she is telling, or parents of these kids who have had uncomfortable situations or bad feelings about him with their kids in the past, going back to his early twenties.
 

bulljive

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Yoda that seems to be the running theme. However people need to actually be brave enough to speak out. Otherwise it will
Continue. I know it’s probably not easy and for a lot of people it was in the past and maybe they rather just move on. Especially with social media it’s not easy, you speak out and the whole world knows what you said.
 

Yoda

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I agree @bulljive i imagine it would be very difficult, but I was more reaffirming that the second hand situations spoken of in the article go outside of that group of girls, and into other women’s teams in the past, and doesn’t appear it was isolated to just whitecaps and Team Canada and his abuse of power.
 

dezza

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A new statement from Jack Reddy, who I believe coached Akal in VMSL as well as being heavily involved with youth soccer for the last decade.

https://ciaramccormack.com/2019/03/...ack-reddy-statement-in-regards-to-coastal-fc/

TL;DR version --
What I want to make clear is that the leadership of Coastal FC was definitely aware of these allegations against Coach Billy because I voiced them as outlined above.


Not looking good for Coastal leadership...
 

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