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EA Sports continues to sponsor Hockey Canada amid scandal

The major video game producer, which has a massive campus in Burnaby, is still a national marketing partner of Hockey Canada.
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A rendering of two new EA Sports office buildings being built in Burnaby.

A major video game producer with a studio in Burnaby remains a Hockey Canada national marketing partner, but is urging it to reform amid a sexual assault and governance scandal.

“The allegations surrounding Hockey Canada are deplorable, and in no way does the alleged behaviour align with the beliefs and values of EA Sports,” said a Thursday statement from EA.

“We support the Canadian hockey players, and will continue to do so, and will ensure our ongoing engagement with Hockey Canada directly supports members of Canada’s national teams, in particular the Canadian women’s national hockey team. We expect Hockey Canada to take these issues seriously and to drive the necessary actions for positive change.”

Hockey Canada is under fire for alleged sexual assault scandals involving former national junior team players and for diverting player dues to funds intended for misconduct settlements. It has also hired crisis communications firm Navigator for damage control. 

Several major sponsors are taking action after the interim CEO appeared at a House of Commons committee meeting on Tuesday. Andrea Skinner said the board supports management, despite the scandal.

Telus, Scotiabank, Tim Hortons and Esso said they won’t support Hockey Canada in 2022-23. Canadian Tire has cancelled its sponsorship entirely.

Recipe Unlimited, the parent of The Keg and Swiss Chalet, said it is cancelling all support for the men’s program.

“We will continue to support women’s related events for the remainder of 2022. Our company focuses on creating inclusive and safe spaces for our teammates and guests, and we expect the same from our partners. At this point, we will not be engaging in any partnership discussions.”

Sobeys, the parent of supermarket chains Safeway and Thriftys, did not renew its sponsorship when it expired in June, “because we were disgusted by all the allegations” and Hockey Canada’s unwillingness to reform, the company said.

Sobeys said it is exploring ways to support the women’s national team directly, without any connection to Hockey Canada.

Stephanie White, chair of Hockey Canada’s British Columbia branch, would not say whether the organization would follow Hockey Quebec’s lead and withhold player dues from Hockey Canada. BC Hockey later issued a statement that said it was monitoring decisions by other Hockey Canada members and continues to participate in the Hockey Canada governance review led by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell.

“BC Hockey is committed to playing a role in accountability for positive change in hockey for our participant members,” BC Hockey said in a statement.

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