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Coffee with the Caps, Monday November 1

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans. It is November now and with that comes the reality that winter is fast approaching. It also means we have one (1) week left in the MLS season and I’m not sure that I’m ready for that either.

We return, however, to the news that broke Friday evening: MLS is engaging independent counsel to probe the allegations you all have surely heard regarding former women’s team coach Hubert Busby.

Even more importantly, the club said in a statement that “any current members of the executive team” involved in the matter are on administrative leave, a substantial first step towards accountability for an organization that has been sorely deficient on that front.

It is not clear who this applies too, though one can easily speculate that Rachel Lewis, Greg Anderson, Dan Lenarduzzi and Bob Lenarduzzi could all be implicated.

The club statement, attributed to Axel Schuster, took a much-needed tone, apologizing to Malloree Enoch for not supporting her at the time and also noting the club’s communication with its players and staff a decade ago was insufficient.

I credit Schuster, who The Province reported met with supporters’ groups and team staff last week. It is frustrating action wasn’t taken earlier on in his tenure but he is saying the right things at this point.

“We are just now proving that we are good on the pitch, and … (it’s time) the club also gets to a level that we can prove off the pitch that we’re doing things well. And for that reason, it was very serious for me to invest a lot of hours into this, prove that if it is connected with my name, that we are doing it in the best possible way,” Schuster told The Province.

This is, obviously, the bare minimum that should be done and the fact that it only took until now to reach this point is shameful. It is perhaps cynical to say, but given how disengaged MLS has been up until now, I was pretty surprised to see them take action as well.

One wonders if the team would have taken these steps if it was not facing such a pivotal week on the pitch. Perhaps I’m cynical. But the North American soccer world will be looking towards Vancouver, even if as a bit player in the larger story of who is going to be vying for MLS Cup. That is more attention than we have gotten in the past — and means this couldn’t be swept under the rug quite as easily.

This cannot be the end, of course. The club and league must be pushed to quickly and transparently handle the investigation. Due process is important, to be sure, but this is an issue where feet have been dragged for a decade or more.

Ultimately, even if heads roll, there must be safeguards put in place, not just to ensure this doesn’t happen again but to make the club (and Canadian soccer) a model for handling assault and abuse allegations more broadly. It means a culture on all teams must exist of openness and high character. Because for a club based on the idea of “our all, our honour,” what could be more fundamental than that?

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