British Columbia

Portland Timbers supporters to join Whitecaps protest walkout Friday

Fans from both teams will leave their seats in the 35th minute of the Vancouver-Portland MLS match at B.C. Place to protest the Whitecaps handling of a 10-year-old scandal.

Fans from both teams will leave their seats in the 35th minute of the Vancouver-Portland match at B.C. Place

Vancouver Whitecaps supporters walk out of the match between Vancouver and Los Angles Football Club in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April, 17, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Vancouver Whitecaps supporters will have company on Friday night when they stage another protest walkout, this one during the Vancouver-Portland MLS match at B.C. Place.

Southsiders vice president Paul Sabourin-Hertzog says members of Portland's supporters groups will be joining the exodus from the stands scheduled for the 35th minute of the game. 

"We expect that there will be a large number of travelling supporters who will choose to act in solidarity with us," said Sabourin-Hertzog.

Members of Whitecaps support groups, the Southsiders and the Curva Collective have staged protest walkouts at the previous two Whitecaps home games to express their solidarity with a group of players from the now-defunct Whitecaps women's team.

'Some things are bigger than rivalry'

In a written statement, the Portland Timbers support group, the Timbers Army, wrote that it "will be in the stands in BC Place in full voice to cheer on the boys in green as they take on the Whitecaps, Cascadian rivals on the pitch. But some things are bigger than rivalry."

"Bottom line: We support human rights, and we support our Cascadian rivals in their fight for safe environments for athletes. To that end, we are sharing this message from Southsiders and Curva Collective — and we encourage our supporters to participate in the walkout of the stadium [...] in solidarity." 

The women have been asking for a meeting with Whitecaps ownership to discuss the club's handling of the alleged harassment and bullying the players experienced a decade ago under a former Whitecaps coach. 

The Portland Timbers Army hold up their scarves during a home game. (Thomas Boyd/The Associated Press)

Whitecaps executives and co-owner Jeff Mallet have met with supporters twice, including Tuesday evening, but Sabourin-Hertzog says the groups still aren't satisfied with the club's handling of the scandal. 

"We are calling for the walkout to continue," he said. "Our reasons for doing this are because we were really hoping to leave the meeting with an arrangement for the Whitecaps ownership to meet the players as they've requested and it looks like that is not going to happen."

"Additionally, we spoke clearly and honestly with the Whitecaps to say that we really disagree with their media strategy and how they have preferred to issue very intermittent statements and not directly answer questions put to them by the media," he said. "I think it's pretty clear they've selected to speak to media partners — people with which the Whitecaps have a direct relationship or who broadcast their games."

Sabourin-Hertzog says he wants to it to be clear the Southsiders are not protesting the current Whitecaps team.

"This is not a protest aimed at the players on the pitch or [coach] Marc Dos Santos," he said. "This has always been a protest against the actions of executives at the top level."