A veteran Richmond FC elite soccer coach has been charged with two counts of assault and suspended indefinitely after he was accused of verbally and physically abusing his teenaged players.  

RCMP started investigating 55-year-old Roberto Sciascia after several parents and another coach filed complaints with the Richmond FC board about bullying, yelling, grabbing and kicking.

 In October, parents of one of Sciascia's 12-year-old players said he went too far teaching the team a defensive technique called choking the defence. The father said the coach demonstrated the technique with "his hands on our child's neck and throat area in a choking manner."

The second alleged assault involves a player on the U13 team Sciascia was coaching.

John Murry

John Murry, a former soccer player who trained under Sciascia for two-and-half years, said he quit the game because of Sciascia. (CBC News)

Sciascia has had an accomplished career in soccer, playing with top clubs in Europe such as Académica and Vittoria and, despite pressure from parents to dismiss him, the Richmond FC initially said it was standing behind him.

CBC News is not naming the family because of the ongoing police investigation, but has spoken to coaches and players who witnessed the incident.

In a complaint, the parents asked the coach be kept "completely away" from their son.

RCMP arrested Sciascia in early January. On Tuesday he appeared in court, charged with two counts of assault.

After he was arrested, the Richmond FC suspended him and launched its own internal investigation. But the club determined none of the players was at risk and Sciascia returned to the club on Feb 2 to coach the U-16, U17 and U18 teams.

However, BC Soccer has ordered him suspended indefinitely following a meeting of its judicial committee.