Jump to content
  • Sign in to follow this  

    How we failed the women

    Duane Rollins

    We don’t like life getting in the way of our sports.

    Sports are supposed to shield us from the day-to-day irritations and stresses. They are our escape. So, when “real life” sneaks its way onto the playing fields many get angry.

    “STICK TO SPORTS,” is the cry when someone tries to start a conversation about more serious topics. That’s a best case response. Worse?


    Often the voices calling to be heard are shouted down by those that just want to cheer.

    We see this in soccer all the time, especially as it relates to racism. And, of course, as always, anything that has to do with women. It’s toxic when fans do this. It destroys lives when institutions do it.

    Such is the case of Bob Birarda and the accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment made against him by, so far, 12 different women who were coached by him while part of the Canadian u20 program and Vancouver Whitecaps elite women’s team. The alleged incidents took place in and around 2008.

    The 12 women came forward after Ciara McCormack published a blog detailing the abuse of power she witnessed while at the Whitecaps at that same time.

    I won’t go into the details here as it is better stated by the 12 women and McCormack, but suffice to say it was horrific.

    It also wasn’t a surprise to anyone that has been around Canadian soccer over the past decade. I first heard a version of this story about nine years ago. It’s been whispered by those “in the know” for years.

    Yet, nothing ever was said publicly. Worse, nothing was done privately either. Prior to the accusations finally becoming public Birarda was still coaching women’s soccer for the club Coastal FC. He’s since been suspended by the club pending review of the accusations.

    Over the past while, I’ve been thinking about why I never wrote or talked about these accusations publicly over the last decade. A fear of being sued likely played a role, but I was involved with a show in It’s Called Football (along with this website) that went after matchfixing (Ben Rycroft’s reporting leading the way), corruption in minor soccer (hello, Ben Knight) and talked openly about potential improprieties in Mo Johnston’s relationship with certain player agents.

    In a previous job, I wrote a story accusing the Northern Ontario Minor Hockey Association of systemic racism against aboriginal players.

    So, I’ve pushed the boundaries as a journalist before. Why didn’t I here?

    I should have. And, I apologize for not doing so. 

    The question is one that I don’t yet know the answer to. But, it’s one that I, and everyone who heard the same whispers, needs to keep asking themselves so that it never happens again.

    Ciara McCormack will be a guest on SoccerToday on Monday, live at 11am ET @SoccerTodaySPN

    Edited by Duane Rollins

    Sign in to follow this  

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    It's a tough one Duane so I don't envy the position in which you found yourself. 

    The Ciara McCormack blog shocked and stunned me. I shared it with a former member of TFC/Canadian International and the obvious frustration and horror on his face and in his body English was a very strong reflection of my own.  Revulsion!

    Ya, realistically, we know that there are terrible men doing terrible things to our female athletes. The cases in the news seem to keep on piling up. The worst has come from the world of USA gymnastics in a case that completely knocks the wind out of one but it doesn't matter if their is one victim or one hundred. 

    I don't have the words so I'll borrow yours.

    Yes, agreed. "We failed the women!"

    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • CANMNT_CNL_Toronto_Carousel.jpg

  • Categories

  • Raffles

  • Posts

    • Yeah it's good system. At least the youngsters get to pay a lot. Most of the lower-league clubs are happy to get these kids! I think Zanatta got a bit out of luck after giving it another shot at Hearts, it then being a bit late in the season for most clubs. Now he signed with a lesser club than he could have IMO. Still he's getting a lot of mileage in the Scottish leagues!
    • Maguire vs Maddison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g5jVytYHnw
    • Froese started and played 71 minutes for Saarbrücken, which lost 0-2 to Bayern Alzenau. The first loss of the season (in 8 games). Saarbrücken immediately lost their top spot to tiny club TSV Steinbach.  Gabriel Boakye entered in the 60 minute for Köln II, which went 0-3 to Borussia Dortmund II.   
    • I'm just glad he GTFO and is safely back in Canada. Rest is details.
    • Had to share this according to the bbc and Kilmarnock Liam was Man if the match he grew into the game and almost had a 2nd.  Celtic away next week a big big game...
    • Embarrassing to even admit that.  Just shows you’re temperamental and not fit to be a ref.
    • Made a great assist today on a 1-2 to give the Caps the lead in added time against Houston
    • I love Davies but he was dominating MLS mainly athleticism and world class pace. David is one of the top players in Jupiler League on technique and soccer IQ. His athleticism, though not on par with Davies, is very good and he's not anywhere close to his physical peak.
    • Just a quick message from the League 1 Ontario games of Saturday September 14, 2019 as I've got an early start tomorrow. Today was the first game of the semi-finals with the second legs happening next weekend. I was at the Masters FA vs Oakville Blue Devils game at L'Amoreaux Park in Scarborough. That ended 0-0 and was a pretty rough game with at least two multi player dustups. At the end of the night both teams had a player Red carded and OBD earned five Yellows and Masters had two. Referee Brian Butler knew what he was doing and didn't fall for any in the box diving. Trainers had to be called out a few times for injuries to both teams. I thought there may have been about 100 people on this cool night with the temperature dropping as the sun had set just before the game started. Good defences on both sides with Spiridon Koskinas for Masters and Lukas Birnstingl for Oakville. Birnstingl has a shutout stretching through the playoffs back to the regular season. I had started the evening at Mt Joy for the Alliance United vs FC London game as I expected I could be in Oakville next weekend and therefore would have seen the 'final four' again before the championship game. It was suggested that I leave well before the game started because Alliance had only eleven players and none of their University of Toronto guys were here (two games this weekend?) and the team had no substitutions. They were trying to call in some guys just to sit on the bench and avoid the fine imposed by the league. “The game (score) could get ugly” and “it'll be a massacre” was what I heard. Quite a shock as the team only lost 1 game all season! I took his advice and drove to L'Amoreaux (it was actually on my way home anyway). Now the two who suggested this were Alliance head coach Ilya Orlov and assistant Julian Green! I'd like to thank them now for their warning as the game ended 5-0 for London. While at the Master's game the L1O tweets stopped early so I though the game was still 1-0. Well the chances of going to the return leg in London next Friday night were remote anyway but now that's saved me the drive for sure. Now AU won't bother to play U of T players even if they have no games next week with a scoreline like that.   More details in a few days but I may have a larger role tomorrow at the York 9 matinee game as a lot of reporters will be at the Toronto FC game downtown (the games overlap) and even the CPL league reporters will be split up as the Forge FC game in Hamilton will end at the exact time as the York game begins. Rocket Robin robing@eol.ca twitter @RocketRobin01  
    • It looks like you can't watch the NWSL games at their website anymore from Canada, but have to go through the TSN app instead.  Oh well, so much for that.
  • Create New...