Yukon soccer authorities suspend 3 players in hazing incident
Coach won't be disciplined, association head says
The Yukon Soccer Association has suspended three players from its under-14 team as a result of a hazing incident at a national tournament last month.
The suspended players were competing in the national U-14 championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I., along with three other teenage teammates who were hazed in their hotel rooms.
However, the team's coach will not be disciplined for the incident, in which the three boys were hazed in different ways.
"This is the first time there has been incidents on one of his teams," association president Brian Gillen said of the coach while speaking in an interview Tuesday with CBC News.
"We've done our investigation, we've looked into it, and we're satisfied that the coach took the appropriate and reasonable steps to ensure the kids were settled for the evening before they retired. The coach is not being suspended."
The identities of the players and the coach haven't been released. The mother and father of one of the boys who was hazed told CBC News about the incident earlier this week, but spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to protect their child's identity.
Gillen would not say for how long the players will be suspended. The parents who spoke out about the hazing have said they wanted year-long suspensions for the players who did the hazing, and an equally long suspension for the coach.
If the parents of the three hazed players are not happy with the association's decision, Gillen said they have 10 days from Tuesday to appeal.
"We took this seriously, we spent an awful lot of time doing this, we talked to players, we've done our research on a course of action, and we've come up [with] an appropriate course of action," he said.
Gillen said the Yukon association will also introduce anti-hazing education measures for its players.
Initiation stunts targeted new players
The parents have already told CBC News that one boy was tied up at the wrists and ankles with athletic tape, and wrapped in plastic wrap while he was in his underwear. Photographs of him were taken with cellphone cameras, they added.
Another boy was taped to a hotel bed with plastic wrap and hit with wet towels, said the parents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their son's identity.
It wasn't known how the third boy was hazed because his parents wouldn't comment.
Gillen said the three suspended players were the ones primarily responsible for the hazing, targeting three of the U-14 team's newest players.
He added that the hazing took place "well after midnight," and the team's coach and staff had no knowledge at the time of the incident.
But while three players have been suspended, Gillen added that "the entire team bears some responsibility" for the incident. All the team's players had known something had happened, but no one came forward, he said.
Diane Smith, a Yukoner who was travelling home from Charlottetown at the same time as some Yukon soccer players, told CBC News that she overheard a conversation between two players and an adult who was travelling with them, while they were all waiting for connecting flights from Vancouver to Whitehorse.
"The boys had said something about having the arms and the legs taped or whatever, and that they were wrapped up. But the father was agitated, and he said something about hoping that everything would blow over, but that he was sure that when the got home, it would come out and the proverbial expletive would hit the fan," Smith said Monday.
"He was telling them to let him handle the situation and not to say anything about it."
Hazing incident not reported to authorities
The P.E.I. Soccer Association, which hosted the national championships, said nothing was reported to local officials about hazing with the Yukon team.
If such an incident had been reported during the touranment, a harassment officer would have dealt with the situation and suspended or sent home anyone found guilty of hazing, P.E.I. officials said.
Smith said she was disgusted to hear no adults reported the incident to soccer authorities or to the boys' parents.
That view was shared by Tracy Maxwell, executive director of HazingPrevention.org, a U.S. anti-hazing organization based in Colorado.
"I'm continually perplexed that parents defend this kind of behaviour when it happens to someone else's child," Maxwell said.
"I would ask them to just put themselves in that position … what if this where being done to your child?"
The parents who spoke out about the hazing incident said they had first heard about it from another parent, as their son did not say anything.
Maxwell said secrecy is often used in and after a hazing incident to discredit and shame the victims. She urged parents and coaches to speak out and end hazing.
The damage inflicted on victims can be deep and lasting, she added.
"You know, bruises will heal. Broken bones will heal. Injuries from physical things will heal. But psychological damage is something we almost never see, and we never know the impact that it could have," she said.