World association

Why the Canadian Hockey Association is losing government support and sponsors right now

Individual players from Canada’s 2018 U20 Gold Team have faced serious allegations.imago / buildbyron

29.06.2022, 09:5729.06.2022, 10:01

It was a parenthesis a few days ago: the officials of the Canadian Ice Hockey Association (Hockey Canada) had to turn to the government in Ottawa and raise questions about the use of state subsidies. But there’s more to the story than bureaucracy – and it’s sparked an avalanche of backlash.

These include an allegation of sexual abuse. In 2018, a 24-year-old woman was repeatedly asked for abuse at the Hockey Canada Foundation gala by eight players who were playing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) at the time. Players from Canada’s U20 national team, which won gold at the 2018 World Junior Championships and included the likes of Kale Makar, Carter Hart, Jordan Kairou and Robert Thomas, were reportedly among the perpetrators.

The names of the eight suspected criminals are not known, with around 20 players to consider. And the charges were never confirmed by the court. Because Hockey Canada and the CHL reached an out-of-court settlement with the plaintiffs to pay him over C$3.5 million in compensation and compensation for pain and suffering, as announced in late May this year .

The Canadian government has raised questions about this. Has the government grant money – the association receives C$7.8 million annually – been paid for by this agreement? President Scott Smith denied the allegations and insisted that association money was used for settlement payments. Nonetheless, Hockey Canada faced heavy criticism.

Among other things, lawmakers criticized the ice hockey association’s handling of the case. Although an independent law firm was appointed to investigate the allegations, the participation of the players facing charges in the investigation was voluntary. About six players would not have participated.

“Hockey Canada has done little to find out who these eight suspects are,” said Anthony Housefather of the Liberal Party of Canada. He added: “They should have done more to find out why they are spending this money. These would-be sex offenders are still playing, maybe even in the NHL, which amazes me. Parliament has called for an independent investigation into the role and treatment of the association in this abusive scam.

A week ago, Canada’s sports minister, Pascal Saint-Onge, announced that state financial aid to the association would be stopped until further notice. “We were waiting for a response from the survey of owners of the association, which unfortunately we did not get,” the 45-year-old said, explaining the decision.

Many major sponsors have now followed the government’s lead. Financial services provider Scotiabank has stopped working with Hockey Canada, as have retailer Canadian Tire and telecommunications giant Telus.

Scotiabank wrote a full page in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest daily, to express its displeasure: “Like many of you, I was shocked by the reports of the attack. As hockey and sports fans, we have a responsibility as sponsors to drive positive change,” wrote CEO Brian Porter. For this reason, the Bank is canceling all planned marketing and events for the U20 World Championships, which will be rescheduled for Edmonton in August. Instead, they want to invest the money in a program that gives children from disadvantaged backgrounds access to ice hockey and the Women’s World Cup.

Sponsor ‘Canadian Tire’, which also sells much of Team Canada’s fan merchandise, has withdrawn from sponsorship of the Under-20 World Cup, saying it wants to fully assess cooperation with the Canadian Hockey Association. Telus has also cut sponsorship money from its partnership with Hockey Canada and the U20 World Cup, and instead wants to put it into an organization that supports women victims of sexual violence.

To date, sponsorship deals and partnerships have accounted for approximately 43% of all Hockey Canada revenue and government grants, approximately 6%. (a boo)