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MLS hires firm for independent review of Whitecaps

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 18:03:42-04

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Major League Soccer has engaged Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh of Rubin Thomlinson LLP to conduct an independent review of the Vancouver Whitecaps' handling of misconduct allegations brought by members of the organization's women's team against former coaches Bob Birarda and Hubert Busby.

“The investigation will consider the club’s internal processes and overall culture at the time of the allegations, including what steps it took in response to the allegations,” MLS said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday. “The review will also consider the club’s current policies and procedures and provide any recommendations on preventative measures to ensure that all players and staff within the Whitecaps organization work in a safe environment, free of all forms of harassment and fear of retaliation.”

U.S. player Malloree Enoch detailed allegations of inappropriate behavior by Busby between 2010 and 2011 in an interview with the British newspaper, the Guardian.

Enoch said Busby promised to sign her as a player, then repeatedly made her room with him on trips and eventually attempted to pressure her for sex.

According to the news outlet, Enoch said she shared her concerns in 2011 with Dan Lenarduzzi, the team’s soccer development director, after signing in 2011, but nothing was immediately done.

In 2019, former Whitecaps player Ciara McCormack detailed alleged abuse by Birada, with others coming forward with similar accusations.

Birada was let go after an internal investigation in 2008, the news outlet reported.

According to the AP, the former coach faces six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault, and one count of child luring, which spans 20 years from 1998-2008.