Skip to main content

Canada Soccer says it has hired a firm to review its investigation into allegations of misconduct levied against the former head coach of the national women’s under-20 team.

The association said in a statement Friday that McLaren Global Sport Solutions has been tasked with looking at the process that led to Bob Birarda being removed as coach.

Birarda, a former coach for both Canada Soccer and the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team, has been charged with six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring.

The alleged offences occurred between January 1988 and March 25, 2008. The allegations have not been tested in court.

Birarda was dismissed by both the Whitecaps and Canada Soccer in October 2008.

Canada Soccer said McLaren Global Sport Solutions – headed by Richard McLaren, a lawyer, investigator and integrity expert – will review the 2008 investigation “to understand fully what occurred and develop recommendations and best practices for any future investigations, to better protect our athletes.”

The association said McLaren will also look at Canada Soccer’s current policies and programs “to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect all involved in our sport at every level of the game.”

Canada Soccer says McLaren’s investigation will be fully independent, and that key findings and all recommendations will be made public.

Major League Soccer previously announced that Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh of Rubin Thomlinson LLP will conduct an independent review of how the Whitecaps dealt with misconduct allegations against Birarda and another former coach, Hubert Busby Jr.

Busby has been accused of pressuring a former player for sex in 2011 when he was head coach of the Whitecaps women’s team. The allegation has not been tested in court.

Busby’s contract with the Whitecaps expired in October 2011 and was not renewed by the team.

Last Monday, a group of former players for the Whitecaps women’s team issued a statement demanding that Canada Soccer and the Whitecaps provide all relevant documentation to the investigation, and that any final reports from the investigation are made public.

Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster said he fully supports the requests made of the club in the statement.

On Friday, Canada Soccer said that it has taken steps “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,” the federation’s statement said.