Well we’re back again. This week it’s because it has emerged that the regional head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Kootenay academy left his previous job at Notts County because there was a pending investigation by both his club and the Nottinghamshire Police into allegations of racism against youth players under his tutelage. Although none of the information of this case was really concealed beforehand, it’s been brought to the attention of the wider public thanks to some digging by Martin Macmahon of 1130news. Brett Adams was hired in 2013, less than six months after leaving Notts County. The allegations against him were not a secret. The first thing that comes up when you Google “Brett Adams Notts County” is a BBC article outlining the allegations. There is no way the Whitecaps were unaware of this when they hired him, unless they literally do zero background checks on their new hires. Adams and his colleague Lee Broster quit their jobs at Notts County before the club could complete an investigation into allegations by “eight or nine” youth players. The players told investigators they feared reprisal for speaking out. Adams was alleged to have thrown a banana at a black player and told him to “fuck off and eat it.” Broster, who worked closely with Adams, was alleged to have turned off all of the lights in a room and asked the black players to smile so he could see their teeth and to have said to players who were listening to hip hop “No wonder you black lads always go around stabbing people when you listen to music like that.” In 2015, the English F.A found the charges against Adams “proved”, suspended him from working in the U.K for six months and fined him £1000 (roughly $1700 CAD).
Upon Adam’s hiring Whitecaps director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi was quoted in an article on the Whitecaps’ website as saying “When the opportunity came up to bring someone of Brett’s experience and credentials to the Kootenays, we felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to have a permanent Whitecaps FC presence in the area to work more closely with the community, local players, and our partners to help grow our Academy Centre.”
So despite this coach being in charge of a relatively small part of the academy, his hiring was fully endorsed by a senior member of the Whitecaps front office. To reiterate, the first five results that come up when you Google “Brett Adams Notts County” are stories on him being investigated for racism. So unless Dan Lenarduzzi doesn’t own a computer he absolutely was aware of Adam’s past but didn’t care enough to not hire him. There are no reasonable excuses for this. If the Whitecaps are serious about their commitment to “hold [them]selves accountable to ensuring there is a respectful, progressive workplace policy of the highest standard in place and expect full compliance from every member of the club” then Dan Lenarduzzi, Brett Adams, and anyone else involved in this hire should be gone by the end of the week. No ifs, ands, or buts.
In 2018, Steven Sandor of the11.ca interviewed (the confusingly named for the purposes of this article) Tim Adams who told him “There’s an Alphonso Davies in every Canadian City.” This may well be true but if the Whitecaps are going to have such lax standards of conduct for their hires then who knows how many of these talented players will be turned off from the Whitecaps or from Canadian soccer all together.
This time last year the Whitecaps were mostly being criticized for results on the field. The off field scandals may seem like separate issues but more and more they seem linked to me. You can see a lot of the lack of direction and vision that has characterized the team’s player recruitment and on field performances reflected in the handling of the cases with the women’s team from 2008-2011, the academy sexual assault in 2017, and now the hiring of Adams. It’s the same attitude of short term thinking and deflecting responsibility in all aspects of how the club operates. One of my first articles for Eighty Six Forever was a part of SB Nation’s “why we are fans” series. In it I said that Whitecaps would always be my team because of the fond memories I had supporting them as a small child at Swangard Stadium. But as an adult, when I look at the Whitecaps, it feels less and less like what’s looking back is something that represents me and that I can relate to.
Just as I was about to publish this article the Whitecaps claimed to Martin Macmahon that they weren’t aware of the allegations, and that they would be standing by Adams citing his “exemplary record.” In other words they are fully doubling down on pissing on me and telling me it’s raining.
UPDATE: Whitecaps tell me the club was not aware of allegations when Brett Adams was hired in 2013 & that it honoured a suspension issued in 2015 following an English FA investigation which found "charge proven." The Whitecaps are standing by him, citing his "exemplary record." https://t.co/79rh5UGvcD— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) April 23, 2019
As I did that update, Nelson Soccer President Chuck Bennett has also expressed his support for Adams. Stay classy, Chuck.
"Our association was made aware at the time and we did not feel pulling Brett out of our association would have been the best thing for our players and volunteers." (2/2)— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) April 24, 2019