The Concealment of Sexual Abuse in Canada Soccer

Recently, there has been a call to action against the President of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Victor Montagliani, due to the covering up of a series of sexual assaults by coaches in the association. Montagliani, who was the Canada Soccer director of national teams in 2008 during the assaults, quietly dismissed at least one Canadian coach, Bob Birarda, rather than pursue legal action. As a result, Biranda was able to keep his coaching licence and was eventually charged in 2020 with nine sexual assaults ranging from the late 1980s to 2008. A former player of his, Ciara McCormack, revealed the abuse in 2019. 

It is also believed that another coach, Hubert Busby Jr., was also quietly dismissed in 2011 for similar reasons, but he, too, was not charged until a player spoke out in 2019 against the abuse she faced. Another player revealed that the expectation for the players was to keep quiet about the situation. 

Victor Montagliani, who has been accused by players of Canada Soccer to have helped conceal the sexual assaults of players by multiple coaches. (Source: Canada Soccer)

Sport is perceived as a male-dominated field. In an article, Brackenridge argues that coaches are already in a position of power over their players. Additionally, female athletes are put into an even lower position of social power than male coaches, leading to a greater disparity in power. Lastly, people are less likely to speak out about abuse in sports because sport is largely believed to be morally good, and this issue clearly threatens this perspective. 

The downplaying of sexual assault in sport is a huge issue that should be recognized more openly. Ensuring that those in positions of power are held responsible is a great place to start in acknowledging and helping to prevent abuse in sport. 


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