Misconduct and abuse allegations that roiled NWSL last month have now reached MLS, as a former women’s coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps has been accused of inappropriate behavior.
Hubert Busby Jr, former coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team and currently coach of the Jamaican women’s national team, was accused by Malloree Enoch of inappropriate behavior between 2010 and 2011. According to Enoch, Busby held out a promise of making the Whitecaps women’s team and pressured her for sex. At the time she and other team members raised concerns to the Whitecaps front office, but they were ignored. She is the second Whitecaps women’s player to come forward with misconduct allegations in the last three years.
As a result, MLS and the Whitecaps have promised a full investigation into the situation, suspending front-office employees involved in the original complaint and bringing in a third-party law firm to oversee the investigation.
Here’s the MLS statement on the allegations and investigation:
Major League Soccer announced today that it will engage independent counsel to oversee a thorough investigation into how the Vancouver Whitecaps organization handled allegations of misconduct brought by members of the Whitecaps women’s team in 2011 against their former coach, Hubert Busby, Jr. The investigation will include a review of the club’s internal processes and overall culture at the time as well as recommendations on preventative measures to ensure that all players and staff under the Whitecaps organization umbrella work in a safe environment, free of all forms of harassment and fear of retaliation. The league and club will publicly release the findings and recommendations of the investigation.
Here is a statement from Vancouver Whitecaps FC CEO Axel Schuster on the allegations and investigation:
We are greatly disturbed by the details that have been published recently concerning Malloree Enoch’s experience in 2010 and 2011 with the club’s former women’s team head coach Hubert Busby Jr.
The courage it takes to come forward cannot be overstated. We respect Malloree’s bravery, appreciate her honesty, and support her entirely. We apologize to Malloree for letting her down.
The club’s leadership was made aware of allegations against Busby at the end of the 2011 season and promptly secured the services of an independent ombudsperson to oversee an investigation into the matter, which ultimately led to the departure of Busby. We have since learned that the investigation did not reveal certain allegations that were disclosed this week. Our communication with players, staff and the soccer community as to the reasons for Busby’s departure was also inadequate. We should have done better, and for that we are deeply sorry.
Moving forward, Major League Soccer will be engaging independent counsel to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation. We are committed to cooperating with that review so that we may understand what potential failings occurred and ensure something like this never happens again. The findings and recommendations of that review will be made public. Any current members of the executive team who were involved in these matters have been placed on administrative leave while we implement next steps in this review.
We vow to work diligently to foster a culture that fully protects our players and employees and puts their safety and well-being above all else.
As noted, misconduct and abuse allegations rocked NWSL last month, when accusations of sexual coercion and abuse by manager Paul Riley during his tenures in North Carolina and Portland were made public after players said their concerns were brushed aside by the league. Lisa Baird has stepped down as NWSL commissioner, as did NWSL general counsel Lisa Levine, with the league vowing both an investigation and a commitment to systematic change.