Former Whitecaps player ‘optimistic’ after meeting about alleged harassment

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VANCOUVER — A woman who spoke out about alleged harassment and bullying by a former coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps says she’s thankful and optimistic about potential change after meeting with the club’s owners.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Luis War/Shutterstock.com

Ciara McCormack says last week’s meeting with herself, three former teammates and owners Greg Kerfoot and Jeff Mallett was intense and emotional, but respectful and the players left feeling that their concerns had been heard.

McCormack published a blog post in February, alleging inappropriate behaviour by Bob Birarda when he was the head coach of the Whitecaps women’s team and Canada Soccer’s women’s under-20 talent pool in 2007 and 2008.

The post said neither Canada Soccer nor the Whitecaps adequately addressed or investigated her concerns, and more than a dozen other former players later came forward alleging they also witnessed or experienced abuse, harassment or bullying by the coach, who was dismissed by both organizations in Oct. 2008.

Birarda did not respond to a request for comment and the allegations have not been proven in court.

The Whitecaps issued an apology to former players earlier this month and the club has said an investigation will be done into actions taken in 2008, with results of the review being made public.