Safe Sport

Code of Conduct | COVID-19 | Air Quality Policy | News


Process for Reporting Breaches of Safe Sport

Overview

At Whitecaps FC providing a safe and supportive environment for athletes to practice, learn, compete, and achieve their best is one of our primary objectives. We are committed to creating and maintaining an equitable, and non-discriminatory environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.

Safe Sport Reporting:

See something. Say something. We encourage all players, parents/guardians and staff to speak up if they witness a violation of the Club’s Safesport principles, if there is an issue or if something just doesn’t seem right.

CALL 911: If there is an immediate threat or danger to you or others or you are aware of any behaviour which may require the attention of police and/or emergency services please call 911 right away.

CONFIDENTIAL HOTLINE: If there is not an immediate threat or danger or something requiring the attention of emergency services please file a report on behalf of yourself, your child or another program participant using our designated third-party Confidential Reporting Hotline. This service is administered by IntegrityCounts, powered by WhistleBlower Security, an independent third-party firm designated to provide confidential communication services. NOTE: This is a reporting hotline and not a crisis line. Please see additional resources section below for crisis services.

Access to this service is through the following channels and reports may be made on a completely anonymous basis. Your identify will only be shared with the Club if you consent to provide this information to the Club through IntegrityCounts:

Phone: 1-866-921-6714 (you will be asked what organization you are calling about. Please say Vancouver Whitecaps FC.)

Email: WhitecapsFC@integritycounts.ca

Online: Ethics Reporting Web Portal

All reports related to a violation of the Club’s Safe Sport policies and practices which are made through this service will be sent in confidence to the Whitecaps Safe Sport committee which currently consists of the Chief Operating Officer, Head of Human Resources and Vice President, Soccer Development.

This committee will convene as reports are received to determine based on the nature of the report what the next course of action will be based on the following guidelines:

Major Incidents

If the alleged violation of the Safe Sport principles is determined to contain a material element of discrimination, harassment, violence, or abuse the Whitecaps Safe Sport Committee will contact and refer the matter to the local police authority immediately. The Club will cooperate fully with authorities and will coordinate its own review of the matter in coordination with the authorities to determine what, if any, additional internal action needs to be taken.

For major incidents the Club may also appoint an independent third party to investigate the matter and its handling by the Club in coordination with the authorities.

Examples of Major Incidents may include:

  • Allegation of a Criminal Code offense
  • Violence resulting in serious bodily harm (e.g., fighting, attacking, sucker punching)
  • Pranks, jokes, or other activities that endanger the safety of others
  • Abusive use of alcohol, any use or possession of alcohol by minors, or use or possession of illicit drugs and narcotics

Minor Incidents

If the alleged violation of the Safe Sport principles is determined NOT to include a material element of discrimination, harassment, violence or abuse it will be considered a minor infraction and the case will be handled by Whitecaps Safe Sport Committee to investigate the complaint.

The committee may also utilize additional external resources and/or appoint an independent third party as part of their investigation as required.

Examples of Minor Incidents may include:

  • Disrespectful conduct
  • Minor incidents of violence (tripping, pushing etc.) that do not result in bodily harm
  • Conduct contrary to the values of the Whitecaps
  • Non-Compliance with the Whitecaps’ policies, procedures, rules or regulations
  • Minor violations of the Whitecaps’ Code of Conduct

REPRISAL -

Reprisal will not be tolerated by the Club under any circumstances and will lead to immediate discipline and potential expulsion/dismissal from the Club and its program. The Whitecaps consider any reprisal or retaliation by coaches, athletes, parents and staff a violation of Safe Sport principles and encourage any instances, real or perceived, to be reported through the hotline above.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Canadian Sport Helpline

Open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week, this national toll-free confidential helpline for harassment, abuse and discrimination provides a safe place for victims and witnesses to report their concerns.

1-888-83-SPORT (77678) or by email at info@abuse-free-sport.ca

The Canadian Sport Helpline will provide callers with advice on the next steps they can take, as well as direct them to the most appropriate national and local services and resources available to them, including the police, child protection services, existing provincial/territorial helplines, or any other relevant services.

For more information visit www.abuse-free-sport.ca

As a resource you can provide your athletes and participants Kids Help Phone operates Canada’s only 24/7, professional counselling, referral and information service for young people. Young people reach out to Kids Help Phone from every corner of the country via phone, Live Chat, text, and through Kids Help Phone’s online resources.

By texting CONNECT to 686868, young athletes can chat confidentially with a trained, volunteer Crisis Responder for support with any issue — big or small. You can also reach a Kids Help Phone counsellor 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.


Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct establishes principles for team officials, players, parents, guardians and spectators to ensure soccer is a fun, safe, and positive experience for all. It is a condition that all participants read and agree to abide by the Code of Conduct at all times. Failure to comply with them will result in action from Whitecaps FC.

Players

As a Player I will:

  1. Do my best
  2. Respect and play by the rules of the game.
  3. Be prepared to the best of my ability for training and matches equally.
  4. Promise to be a team player and encourage my fellow teammates to do the same.
  5. Ensure that I arrive on time to all training sessions and games.
  6. Wear the assigned club attire for all training and matches with pride.
  7. Listen to and follow instructions and decisions of coaching staff.
  8. Always hold respect for opponents, coaches, referees and teammates.
  9. Immediately report any injury to coaching staff
  10. Not engage in unsportsmanlike conduct or negative communication with players, coaching staff or families of the opposing team.
  11. Never use profanity, display temper tantrums, violent behaviour, or engage in harassment or bullying of any kind.
  12. Not engage in negative comments towards players or teams through any social media platforms
  13. Not engage in any reprisal or retaliation after any concerns or complaints have been raised against me or any member of the team or camp
  14. Ensure that all communication on personal social media between coaches and players should be limited to non-personal topics

Parents and Guardians

As a parent / guardian / spectator I will:

  1. Set a positive example for my kids by maintaining a positive attitude and promoting fair play at all times.
  2. Help my kids understand their role and the importance of their contribution to the team by highlighting their progress instead on focusing on results.
  3. Ensure punctual arrival and always inform my coach if I will be late or absent.
  4. Inform the coach of any injury or health problem.
  5. Not engage in unsportsmanlike conduct or negative communication with players, coaching staff or families of the opposing team.
  6. Not publicly question the coaches or manager’s judgment or question their integrity.
  7. Never criticize game officials and always respect the decisions they make.
  8. Not discriminate, harass, or bully any team official, player, or spectator.
  9. Not engage in offensive or abusive language or behaviour, or physical threats.
  10. Communicate privately with the coach if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions.
  11. Remain outside the field of play and within the Designated Spectator Area (where provided)
  12. Refrain from yelling or coaching from the sidelines during training sessions or games.
  13. Not to engage in any reprisal or retaliation after concerns or complaints have been raised against myself or any member of the team or camp

Coaches

As a coach I will:

  1. Adhere to and promote the Code of Conduct to players, parents and spectators alike.
  2. Consistently display the highest standards of behavior and be a positive role model.
  3. Respect the rights, dignity and worth of each and every person regardless of gender, place of origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, political belief or economic status.
  4. Teach players and parents to act fairly and respect the rules, referees and opponents
  5. Encourage each player to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and performance
  6. Show zero tolerance for offensive language, behaviour or any form of bullying.
  7. Never engage in public criticism of anyone in any situation on or off the field.
  8. Communicate openly to ensure all expectations and feedback are understood
  9. Make sure that equipment/facilities are safe and in good standing.
  10. Inform parents of any injuries their child might have suffered without delay.
  11. Co-operate fully with other specialists (e.g. other coaches, officials, sports scientists, doctors, physiotherapists) in the best interests of the player
  12. Place well-being and safety above all other considerations, including performance and results.
  13. Abstain from the use of any alcohol, tobacco or drugs while in the presence of athletes
  14. Never exert undue influence to obtain personal benefit or reward.
  15. Ensure activities are appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of players.
  16. Ensure players, staff, spectators respect the field boundaries for training and match play.
  17. Ensure that all coaches adhere to the Rule of Two (at least two adults present) when interacting with minors on and off the field
  18. Ensure that all communication on personal social media between coaches and players should be limited to non-personal topics
  19. Ensure that any reprisal or retaliation after concerns or complaints have been raised against myself or any member of the team or camp not be tolerated

 


COVID-19

Vancouver Whitecaps FC, along with Major League Soccer (MLS), have been closely monitoring recent updates on the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

MLS announced on March 12 that the league would be suspending the season for 30 days. The club has also suspended all team training.

The health and safety of our players, staff, and the public is our top priority. We will continue to follow the guidelines set out by Health Canada, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are in regular communication with MLS and BC Place officials, our other facility operators, and our youth program managers to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to protect our community.

Health Canada advises any people who are sick to stay at home. Anyone who has traveled to a high risk region, or been exposed to someone returning from a high risk region, should be cleared by a public health expert prior to attending any events.

The most at-risk members of the community include people over 50 years of age and people with underlying health conditions.

In accordance with Health Canada guidance, please note that athletes, staff, and other participants are encouraged to limit physical exchanges such as hand shaking and high fives which can lead to the spread of germs.

The CDC recommends everyday precautionary actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

For more information, please refer to Health Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

 


Air Quality Policy

Whitecaps FC is committed to ensuring a safe environment for your children above all else. In the event of an air quality advisory, Whitecaps FC uses the Government of Canada’s Observed Air Quality Index and Air Quality Guidelines as its two primary resources for making informed decisions around any changes, rescheduling or reduction of its camp programs. As conditions change, the club and its staff will always make decisions in the best interest of the players, parents, and staff, and whenever possible, commit to running the camp as scheduled.

Air Quality Rating: 7-10+ (High)

  • Sessions may be rescheduled to a future date, or when possible, moved indoors. Additional time may be added to any remaining days of the camp to make up any missed sessions.
  • If a camp day has already begun, the camp will continue as scheduled but the program will move to low impact activities with high exertion or strenuous activities reduced to a safe level.
  • Players will be given longer rest and water breaks throughout the session, and those with pre-existing health conditions (as indicated under the section “Comments/Medical concerns” on their registration form) will be monitored closely.
  • Players may choose not to participate in camp activities or withdraw voluntarily.

Air Quality Rating: 4-6 (Moderate to Low)

  • Camps will run normally.
  • Players with pre-existing health conditions or those with health concerns will be given additional rest or water breaks as required.
  • Activities may be adjusted for younger players & those with pre-existing health conditions.  

Notification Procedures

Before a camp day:

  • Check your email.  In the event of a change due to air quality, the email address on file will be emailed at least 1-hour prior to the start of a camp day with any changes.
  • If a session needs to be rescheduled, participants will be notified by email of the new date and/or time as soon as it has been finalized.  Every effort will be made to keep the rescheduled session within the existing camp week.

During a camp day:

  • Should the air quality deteriorate after a camp day has begun, camps will run as scheduled with reduced activities. Parents will be notified by email if activities are changed.

Refunds:

 


News

Whitecaps FC retains nationally recognized sport management group to advise on industry leading safe sport practices. Read More

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Vancouver Whitecaps FC released on Wednesday the report dated December 13, 2019 from the independent review conducted by the Sport Law & Strategy Group (SLSG) of the club’s past and current safe sport policies and procedures, and the actions taken by Whitecaps FC in response to incidents that occurred in 2008. In addition, two other historical matters were reviewed and are addressed in the report.

To read the SLSG report in full, click HERE.

The SLSG conducted extensive interviews and stakeholder engagement with over 350 former and current players, parents, staff, coaches and other interested stakeholders, and examined relevant documents including memos, letters, policies and procedures. Among the key findings, the SLSG report states:

  • Since 2008, the Whitecaps have continued to improve their policies and practices particularly as they relate to safe sport. Many of the Whitecaps current policies and procedures for safe sport meet current leading practices in the sector.
  • The Whitecaps current human resources procedures meet expected standards.
  • The SLSG did not find that the Whitecaps were attempting to “cover up” the 2008 incidents or “sweep the incidents under the rug.”
  • The Whitecaps managed the inappropriate text communication that was brought to their attention in May 2008 prudently and reasonably.
  • The SLSG identified that in 2008 there was a lack of effective communication with the players and noted that it was this lack of communication that resulted in frustration, mistrust and speculation which has contributed to the lingering animosity still held by some former players today.
  • The Whitecaps were criticized by some players for not taking steps to ensure that the coach was prohibited from coaching in the future. It was determined that the Whitecaps did not have the authority and jurisdiction to prohibit anyone from coaching in other soccer programs.

Numerous recommendations were made by the SLSG to advance the Whitecaps FC efforts in safe sport and are cited in Section VIII of the report. This includes recommendations received from the stakeholders who participated in the review. All of the players interviewed were asked to provide their own recommendations for what improvements, solutions, or changes they would like to see Whitecaps FC adopt going forward. Their suggestions were also incorporated into the recommendations.

The anonymous player from 2008 who participated in the initial process to approve the SLSG to carry out the review offered, “I have had the opportunity to review the report in its entirety and found it to be very thorough. I am satisfied with the approach the SLSG took by engaging athletes and the community and with the overall findings. I want to ensure current and future athletes have a safe, healthy experience and I believe the recommendations in this report will support that.”

“We again express our sincere regret and empathy to the brave women who came forward to share their experiences, and to all who were affected,” said Whitecaps FC co-owner Jeff Mallett. “Athletes must be provided with an environment where they are safe, secure, and free from any form of bullying and harassment. We are grateful to the over 350 athletes, community members, parents, supporters, and staff who engaged in this review. This process has sharpened our focus on the importance of addressing the issues faced across all sport environments.”

Added Mallett, “It’s reassuring to have the SLSG affirm that many of our practices meet leading standards. Nevertheless, we also recognize through their recommendations that there is much more we can do. Not only are we committed to adopting the recommendations in this report, but we’ve also started dialogue with key organizations to see how we can help further advance safe sport.”

“We welcomed the opportunity to conduct this review on safe sport practices and would like to acknowledge the many stakeholders who participated in the process,” shared Dina Bell-Laroche, Partner, Sport Law & Strategy Group. “We hope that the recommendations provide the Whitecaps with additional measures to advance their leadership in this area.”

Q&A

Whitecaps ownership and executives have reviewed the SLSG report and prepared the following questions and answers:

1.    When did you receive the report?

We received the final report from the SLSG on Friday, December 13.  

2.   Why did the review take longer than expected?

The priority was to provide the SLSG the necessary time to conduct their work thoroughly and independently. We acknowledge that the review process took longer than originally anticipated. Through this process the SLSG engaged over 350 stakeholders including former and current player, parents, staff, coaches and other interested parties.  

3.   How was the SLSG chosen as the independent third party?

We reviewed the credentials and experience and interviewed several organizations that consult on athlete safety. The SLSG has provided similar services to several major Canadian sports organizations over the past 27 years and are recognized as leaders in turning safe sport into actions. Additionally, we worked with a group of four former players connected to the matters in 2008 on the selection. We concluded that the SLSG was the best choice to conduct the independent review, share their findings and make recommendations.

4.   What actions are you taking as a result of the report’s findings?

This process has sharpened our focus on the importance of addressing the issues faced across all sport environments. Not only are we committed to adopting the recommendations in this report, but we’ve also started dialogue with key organizations working in this space to see how we can help further advance safe sport.

5.   When can we expect to see these recommendations implemented?  

We will be working as expeditiously as possible to implement the recommendations effectively. Our Human Resources department will be putting together a task force to lead the implementation of the recommendations and will prioritize the most pressing ones. The Safe Sport page on whitecapsfc.com will continue to house the latest information on the club’s initiatives in this space.  

6.  Has there been communication with the four former players who were consulted prior to the review?  

Yes, the four athletes who were invited to participate in the selection of the SLSG were made aware of the pending release of the report. One of those four players who wishes to remain anonymous offered, “I have had the opportunity to review the report in its entirety and found it to be very thorough. I am satisfied with the approach the SLSG took engaging athletes and the community and with the overall findings. I want to ensure current and future athletes have a safe, healthy experience and I believe the recommendations in this report will support that.”

We again thank these women for their bravery in coming forward and express our sincere regret and empathy to all those who were affected. We are truly sorry.

About SLSG
The SLSG is an independent third party that was created in 1992 and has been offering legal and risk management services and leadership development to hundreds of sport organizations across Canada, from community-based to national-level programming.