MLS hires a law firm to investigate the Vancouver Whitecaps

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Major League Soccer has hired Rubin Thomlinson LLP to conduct an independent review of the Vancouver Whitecap’s handling of allegations of misconduct and harassment by members of the organization’s women’s team against two former coaches.

Hubert Busby Jr. and Bob Birarda are the coaches accused of wrongdoing, and Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh will lead the review.

“The inquiry will consider the club’s internal processes and overall culture at the time of the allegations, including what action it took in response to the allegations,” Major League Soccer said in a statement on Thursday.

“The audit will also take into account the club’s current policies and procedures and make recommendations for preventive measures to ensure that all players and staff within Whitecap’s organization work in a safe environment, free from all forms of harassment and fear of retaliation.”

Malloree Enoch shed light on the detailed allegations of misconduct by Busby between 2010 and 2011 in a recent interview with the British newspaper The Guardian. The American player remembered Busby’s promises to sign her before he got Enoch to share a room with him on warehouse trips and eventually tried to pressure her for sex.

The player initially shared his concerns with Dan Lenarduzzi, the team’s football development manager, after signing in 2011 but no action was taken by him or the club.

Enoch said that it culminated in a group of players who expressed their concern about Busby and their overall treatment as players to the management.

Busby left Vancouver after his contract expired in October 2011, but was then named head coach of Jamaica’s women’s team in January 2020.

In 2019, former player Ciara McCormack described alleged harassment from Birarda, which inspired others to come forward with similar accusations.

Birada was released by Whitecaps in 2008 following the outcome of an internal investigation, and now faces charges, including six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child molestation, involving charges ranging from 20 years from 1988 to 2008.

Whitecap’s CEO Axel Schuster said managers related to the incident have been given administrative leave when Major League Soccer conducts the independent investigation. He also apologized to Enoch for the team’s handling of her initial allegations.

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