Good Friday Morning to you all in Caps-land. Today marks the continuation of a rather odd trend: Vancouver’s penchant for having Friday evening matches scheduled. No complaints here though and tonight’s match is a vital chance to pick up three-points against the Colorado Rapids, one of the few teams even more beleaguered than the Caps.
But we begin this column by reviewing the week that was off-the-pitch. The club has finally appeared to bow somewhat to pressure from the Southsiders, Curva Collective and other supporters’ group, who have continued their 35th minute walkout over allegations the club mishandled a series of sexual assault and harassment incidents in its women’s program. This is in addition to the firestorm of bad media coverage, outrage from other fans across MLS and general bad karma that has stemmed from the matter.
It began before last week’s home match against the Philadelphia Union at BC Place, when Caps co-owner Jeff Mallett met with the groups to discuss what we can presume to be the organization’s response to the allegations.
We’re going to set aside for the moment the rather odd action of meeting with supporters before even really acknowledging the actual victims. The Southsiders put out a statement after basically saying they were taking a wait-and-see approach
As you can imagine it's been a busy day for our board members. Obviously there's been a lot of interest in what was said between the supporters and Whitecaps executives.— Vancouver Southsiders (@Southsiders) April 28, 2019
We're reviewing notes that were taken and talking internally among our board members & volunteers.
In a later Tweet, the group said that management indicated there would be some shoe to drop in the short term. We can only assume that shoe was a statement published Wednesday by the club which offered a fuller, more contrite apology from the clubs ownership group than what was distributed by the club a couple weeks ago.
The statement is available here for those who wish to read it on their own; we’ll quote from the pertinent parts here. In the letter, Mallett and Greg Kerfoot appear to acknowledge for the first time the real impact these events had on survivors.
“... we express sincere regret and empathy for the harm that has clearly come to many women who participated in our program at that time. The pain and suffering these women feel is real and something we care deeply about. And while we sought and acted on the advice of the best available counsel at the time, it is clear that people were deeply affected. For that we are sorry.”
Ok, so we have some reasonably strong language here. I’m glad someone at the club finally has empathy for these women, even though it appears to have taken awhile for it to manifest itself. But if you more closely read the opening salvo of the letter, it comes off as more of a “we’re sorry you feel that way” tone than a genuine desire to make amends.
The letter proceeds in this vein for awhile, as well as outlining what actions the club took and where it will go in the future (apparently this will involve working with governing bodies, interesting because inaction by the Canadian Soccer Association is in part how we got here in the first place).
“By advocating for those who have been hurt, we can all help clear the way for safer sport for all women and foster an environment free of discrimination and harassment in which girls and women can thrive. This is and must be our highest priority not only for girls and women but for all athletes.”
Where things really get weird is in the timeline laid out at the bottom of the letter. It didn’t take long for (surprise, surprise) holes to get poked in its accuracy. Ciara McCormack hit back with a blog post so I won’t summarize all of them here but suffice to say there are many discrepancies.
All in all, this was an improvement in tone from the organization. The club finally seems to be taking this seriously. The problem is, it appears they are taking it more seriously as a PR issue than actually expressing remorse for actions which have caused harm to survivors. The language in the statement and the timing of its release is obviously in response to the avalanche of walkouts and bad press that have come in recent weeks.
And therein lies the problem. Until further, more consequential action is taken from the club, I will refuse to believe that it sees itself as anything more than a victim. Let us hope this is a sign of more consequential action but I won’t be holding my breathe.
Now onto the links:
Shameless Self Promotion
As mentioned above, today is a match day and we have everything you need to prepare. Ian Jones gives you the inside scoop on the now Anthony Hudson-less Rapids from our comrades over at Burgundy Wave.
Sam Rowan gives us a lowdown on the top storylines entering the match, with some updates from training mixed in.
Best of the Rest
Marc dos Santos is a straight shooter and there are some really interesting quotes in this Province piece on the barriers the club is facing in terms of financial investment
Atletico Madrid will be this year’s All Star Game opponent, the annual mid-season display which I invariably fall asleep midway through
Paul Tenorio is reporting that Toronto FC are once again splashing the cash to bring Omar Gonzalez back in from the Liga MX cold [stares wistfully into the distance and wonders what it must be like to have MSE cash]
Anthony Hudson is a bad manager but is he the worst in MLS history? Burgundy Wave thinks so
Happy weekend everybody; let’s get it started with a win tonight in Commerce City!