British Columbia

Vancouver Island soccer club suspended after teen player slams sponsor

A girl's soccer team based in Comox, British Columbia has been suspended following a dispute over the sponsorship of the team by Marine Harvest, a large fish farm company.

Family opposed to fish farm sponsorship felt they had to speak out

Fourteen-year-old Freyja Reed says she wants to play soccer, but doesn’t want to promote fish farms. (Anissa Reed)

A girls soccer team based in Comox, B.C. has been suspended amid a dispute over its sponsorship by a large fish farm company.

Goalkeeper Freyja Reed, 14, has said she was shocked to discover her team was to be sponsored by Marine Harvest, one of the largest operators of open-net fish farming in B.C.

Reed and her mother, Anissa Reed, complained to organizers and online because they believe fish farming harms wild salmon.

In an email to players over the weekend, the Riptide Steering Committee, the organization behind the team, said the team and all its activities have been suspended until further notice.

"We have had to pause our 2001 Girls' team events due to continued breach of our organization's code of conduct by the Reed family, and our concern for the privacy and safety of our club's players, parents, and volunteers," said committee member Sean Arbour in a statement to CBC News. 

Anissa Reed has long been a vocal opponent of fish farms. (CBC News)

"We will be meeting with the Reed family to discuss the matter, and hope to find a solution that may meet the expectations and values of club and family."

CBC News reported last week that the Reed family balked at what they described as a "gag order" from the committee, which sought to bar them from voicing opinions about fish farming with other team parents. 

They were also told if they didn't remove a Facebook page created to oppose the Marine Harvest sponsorship, Freyja Reed might have to play elsewhere.

Reed responds

Freyja Reed responded to her teammates over the weekend.

"I never intended to hurt my teammates by speaking out, or intrude on their privacy," she wrote. 

"This is all so very unfortunate. But I need you to know I cannot apologize for standing up for what I believe in."   

The Reeds moved to Comox, a town of about 13,000 people on Vancouver Island, last year from the remote community of Sointula — specifically so Freyja could play Tier 2 soccer.

She has said she made "a lot of friends" playing soccer in Comox.

With files from Duncan McCue

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