Canadian Soccer Player Speak Out After Coach Investigation

In February of 2019, soccer player Ciara McCormack accused a women’s national team coach of inappropriate behaviour. McCormack first brought the allegations against U20 coach Bob Birarda to public attention with a blog post. Canada Soccer said that it has agreed to a transparent review of the investigation of the allegations against Birarda during the time when he was employed by the association. Birarda has been charged with sexual offences involving four people. He’s facing six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring. 

Canada’s Jessie Fleming scoring during Canadas’s game against New Zealand (Source: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) 

Canada’s women’s soccer team won Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games earlier this summer. They then participating in a two-game Celebration Tour of that win in Ottawa and Montreal. Canadian Soccer Players’ Association only agreed to playing the exhibition games if the review of the Birarda investigation was released. 

The players are frustrated that it took this long for any results with the allegations. “It shouldn’t take winning a gold medal for players to be taken seriously,” said McCormack. To have to wait two and a half years for justice is concerning. Canada Soccer should be supporting these women who have struggled the last two years waiting and help them receive closure.   

The impacts of sexual harassment and abuse are severe. Studies have shown that 90% of sexual harassment victims suffer from significant emotional distress. Many sexual assault incidents go unreported, especial when is come to women in sport, for these girls to have to courage to stand up and make the allegations would have taken a lot of bravery. Canada soccer should be sticking by these women by helping them get through this impossible situation instead of making them wait.    

Reagan DeGruchy

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