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Canada's top women hockey players say there's much to do to clean up toxic behaviour – CBC Sports

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Players on Canada’s senior women’s hockey teams are demanding a “thorough and transparent investigation” into recent allegations of sexual assault involving Hockey Canada teams, and say the organization has a lot to do to address “toxic behaviour” in the sport.

The players from Canada’s most recent Olympic and world championship teams posted an open letter to Hockey Canada’s executives and board of governors Monday on the eve of a second round of parliamentary hearings into the organization’s handling of sexual assault complaints.

  • Have you experienced a toxic hockey culture? What do you think can be done to change it? Send an email at ask@cbc.ca. We are listening.

“We join all Canadians in demanding a thorough and transparent investigation of the incidents in question, as well as the structure, governance and environment that exists within [Hockey Canada],” the letter read.

“Once the whole truth is out, Hockey Canada and its elected board must ensure that all steps are taken and appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that this kind of behaviour is never again accepted, and never repeated.”

The letter was published after Hockey Canada released on Monday a plan to combat the “toxic” culture in its sport.

The plan includes the implementation by the end of September of a centralized tracking and reporting system for abuse complaints. It said the results will be published annually to “hold Hockey Canada accountable.”

The organization will publish an annual social responsibility report, which will include information on complaints received at both the national team and subnational levels and a scorecard based on “key performance indicators.” Hockey Canada said it was in the process of identifying the measures to be included in the scorecard.

Hockey Canada did not say what data on the complaints will be made public in the report, but historical allegations of sexual assault will not be included.

Hockey Canada also says it will implement enhanced screening for high-performance players — “considering their behaviour and track record outside of their time with Hockey Canada and outside of the rink.” It will mandate that breaching the organization’s code of conduct or refusing to participate in an investigation could result in a lifetime ban.

WATCH | Hockey Canada ending use of reserve fund to settle sexual assault claims:

Hockey Canada says it will no longer use equity fund to settle sexual assault claims

4 days ago

Duration 4:41

Hockey Canada said in a statement Wednesday its National Equity Fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims.

The women, in their letter, said they were “encouraged” by the action plan, but added it was only “a step toward addressing toxic behaviours.”

“There is much more work and action needed to fully address the underlying issues in order to ensure a new Hockey Canada emerges from this crisis.”

The measures outlined Monday are in addition to those announced by Hockey Canada in a July 14 open letter, which came amid intense criticism for the organization’s handling of a sexual assault allegation involving eight players, and settlement of an ensuing lawsuit, following a 2018 gala in London, Ont. A second sexual assault allegation involving the Canadian team participating at the 2003 junior championship in Halifax surfaced on Friday.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

An independent review of Hockey Canada’s governance and a commitment to become a full signatory to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to independently investigate abuse complaints and levy sanctions, were announced in the open letter.

Hockey Canada also said previously it would create an independent mechanism to handle complaints at the regional, provincial and local levels, which are not covered by the OSIC.

Julie Macfarlane, a law professor and Member of the Order of Canada who previously worked as an employment mediator, told CBC Sports in an email that Hockey Canada’s plan lacks transparency.

“There is no mention of any qualifications for the [‘independent third party’] or the mediator. Often the default is to a lawyer. That may be fine if they have been trained to be a mediator or an investigator — we have no national accreditation for these roles so the training is a bit hit and miss — but there are some reputable programs.

“There is no mention either of whether the ITP/mediator will be trauma-informed and trained to work with victims of abuse,” Macfarlane wrote.

Additionally, she said the plan skips information on how outcomes will be communicated to victims and noted the use of non-disclosure agreements as defaults as a “major problem.”

“Effectively this means that the outcomes will be just as secret as they have always been. There needs to be a clear commitment to offering victims confidentiality but not requiring them to sign an NDA, which makes their privacy depend on protecting the perpetrators,” Macfarlane wrote.

WATCH | Trudeau calls report of legal fund for abuse claims ‘unacceptable’:

Trudeau responds to latest allegations against Hockey Canada

6 days ago

Duration 0:57

Responding to a report that Hockey Canada had a legal fund to pay off sexual assault victims, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doubled down on his support for freezing the organization’s funding pending an investigation.

Hockey Canada’s plans to donate to the Kids Help Phone charitable organization in response to the claims left the CEO of the phone line upset over the use of its name without consent.

Kids Help Phone’s CEO Katherine Hay tweeted her disapproval of Hockey Canada’s plans, calling it a “self serving attempt to align with our good” on Friday.

“Do better, Hockey Canada, and apologize,” added Hay in the post.

CBC News confirmed the charitable organization hasn’t received an apology about the unilateral use of the phone line’s name as of Monday night.

Hearing this week

The House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage will hear testimony Tuesday and Wednesday. Hockey Canada had its federal funding frozen and multiple corporate partners pause sponsorships after former chief executive Tom Renney and current president and CEO Scott Smith testified about their handling of the 2018 allegation in a parliamentary hearing on June 20.

Smith and Renney testified the 19 players present at the London event were “strongly encouraged” to speak with third-party investigators, but not mandated to do so.

Smith took over from Renney as Hockey Canada CEO on July 1.

Smith and Renney have been subpoenaed to testify Wednesday, along with the heads of the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League, as well as Glen McCurdie, Hockey Canada’s former vice-president of insurance and risk management.

WATCH | Is it possible to change Canada’s hockey culture?:

Ottawa Morning10:04Can hockey culture in Canada change?

Brady Leavold is a former CHL player and skated for teams in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and is now a podcast host. Tara Slone is a former co-host of Rogers Hometown Hockey and an advocate of social change. Both say it’s time for the sport to undergo a systemic shift in the sport’s culture that has been ingrained in hockey for decades.

The Canadian Press reported on July 18 that Hockey Canada maintains a fund that draws on minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims. The detail was included in a July 2021 affidavit sworn by McCurdie as part of a lawsuit launched by an injured player in Ontario.

Hockey Canada has since said the fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims.

The action plan released Monday also includes mandatory chaperones for underage athletes at Hockey Canada events to enforce curfews and ensure no alcohol is consumed. Hockey Canada also said it will no longer host “open bar” events.

The action plan says a review of all existing training programs performed by a third-party organization is underway.

Hockey Canada said an independent board will be appointed by Sept. 15 to ensure its plan is implemented.

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Preseason Opener: Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea Takes on Wrexham

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Welcome to the first match of the summer, the first preseason game, and the first chance to see Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea in action. While the main focus today is on fitness, this game will undoubtedly spark analysis and excitement among fans.

Football, sort of, is back! Let’s see how the teams line up for this highly anticipated friendly.

Chelsea Starting XI:

  • Sánchez
  • James (c)
  • Tosin
  • Badiashile
  • Colwill
  • Lavia
  • Chukwuemeka
  • Nkunku
  • Madueke
  • Guiu
  • George

Substitutes:

  • Beach
  • Bergström
  • W. Fofana
  • Veiga
  • Acheampong
  • Gusto
  • Chilwell
  • Santos
  • Ugochukwu
  • Sterling
  • Ângelo
  • Broja

Wrexham Starting XI:

  • Okonkwo
  • Cleworth
  • Brunt
  • O’Connor
  • Bolton
  • Jones
  • Dobson
  • Lee
  • Revan
  • Palmer
  • McClean (c)

Substitutes:

  • Howard
  • Burton
  • Boyle
  • Barnett
  • James
  • Forde
  • Evans
  • Ashfield
  • Cannon
  • Davies
  • Bickerstaff
  • Waters
  • Dalby
  • Marriott

Match Details:

  • Date / Time: Wednesday, July 24, 7pm PDT; 3am BST (next day); 7:30am IST (next day)
  • Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, USA
  • On TV: ESPN (USA); none (UK); elsewhere
  • Streaming: ESPN+ (USA); Chelsea TV (int’l pay-per-view)

Both teams will be eager to test their tactics and players ahead of the upcoming season. Chelsea fans are particularly excited to see how new manager Enzo Maresca will shape the team, while Wrexham supporters are keen to see their team perform against top-tier opposition.

Let’s see how the starting formation and tactics unfold as we get a first glimpse of what’s to come this season. Stay tuned for an exciting game!ea

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Malaika Mihambo and Dennis Schröder Lead Germany’s Diverse Olympic Team to Paris 2024

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“The goals have definitely not changed,” Malaika Mihambo declared in a recent television interview, reaffirming her determination to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games despite a recent setback from a coronavirus infection. The 30-year-old long jumper aims to defend her Olympic gold medal, which she won in Tokyo in 2021.

While Mihambo is a seasoned Olympian, Paris 2024 will mark a special debut for Dennis Schröder, the captain of Germany’s 2023 world champion basketball team. “It has always been a goal of mine to be at the Olympic Games,” said the 30-year-old Brooklyn Nets player.

Mihambo and Schröder are among the stars of the German Olympic team, which showcases remarkable diversity with around 450 top athletes. This team includes individual talents such as tennis stars Angelique Kerber, the silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and Alexander Zverev, the 2021 Olympic champion in Tokyo. Notable teams include the men’s basketball team led by Schröder, the women’s football team, and the men’s handball team.

Among the experienced Olympic stars is table tennis player Timo Boll, who has won several team medals and is immensely popular in China and beyond. Dressage rider Isabell Werth, with seven Olympic gold medals, aims to match the all-time record of nine gold medals held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.

Some German athletes, though not yet household names, have garnered attention with impressive performances leading up to the Games. In athletics, the women’s 4×100 meter relay team, decathlete Leo Neugebauer, and marathon runner Amanal Petros stand out. Trend sports also feature promising talents like surfers Camilla Kemp and Tim Elter, and 17-year-old skateboarder Lilly Stoephasius, who will compete in her second Olympic Games.

Swimmer Angelina Köhler has recently emerged as a star, winning gold in the 100 meter butterfly at the 2024 World Championships. Köhler, who has openly discussed her ADHD diagnosis, described participating in the Olympics as fulfilling “a very, very big childhood dream.”

As Germany heads to Paris, this diverse and dynamic team aims to leave a significant mark on the 2024 Olympic Games.

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Thomas Müller: The End of an Era for Germany’s Iconic #13

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It is difficult to write something about Thomas Müller that hasn’t been written before, yet at the same time, it is difficult to capture his essence in mere words. That alone is an indicator of his distinctive nature as a person and brilliance as a footballer.

It is said commonly, there will never be another Thomas Müller. And that rings true today more than ever, for Germany, for football.

Germany has dominated world football so often throughout history, each era marked by superstars in their own right. And even then, Thomas Müller remains unique, apart from the rest. The idea of a dominant die Mannschaft in the ‘modern era’ of football immediately prompts the mental image of an overjoyed Müller wearing any variation of the iconic white-black German kits, busy shouting in celebration amidst the euphoria of scoring yet another goal for his country on the biggest of stages.

Efficient, unorthodox, enigmatic – yet somehow simple. Everywhere he needed to be on the pitch, yet he left the greatest of defenders oblivious, unable to predict his next move. A goalscorer and creator simultaneously and equally brilliant at doing both. Unapologetically himself – both on and off the pitch.

You’d never be mesmerized by Müller’s touch, flair, or skills. But you’d be mesmerized nonetheless. Unpredictable off-the-ball movement, a surprise element with the ball, and a shot from such unbelievable angles that you’d never believe how it found the net. And even then what forever remained stuck in the minds of fans and opponents alike was the scene that followed after his heroics in the opposition box — a group of elated Germans heralding around Müller as the scoreboard reads a scoreline just as memorable.

A little boy from the south of Bavaria had a dream and had the entire world watch as he lived it to the fullest. Müller represented his country a total of 131 times and somehow every single time he was a pleasure to watch and a menace to face. The lights were bright, but he shone brighter.

His football was messy but incredibly effective. Tall, scrawny, and the furthest thing from muscular, but it worked to his advantage. He was never the “typical footballer” — concerning both his personality and playstyle. He was so good at everything going forward that the orthodox football terms didn’t apply. No problem for Müller – “Ich bin ein Raumdeuter,” said the star clearing things up about his position and inventing a role in football no one other than himself has or ever will truly master.

Germany’s first game at the 2010 World Cup saw Müller walk onto the pitch with the number 13 on his back. The same number was coincidentally also worn by legendary German striker Gerd Müller at the ‘76 finals. Thomas scored that night — it was the first of 45 goals he would go on to score for his nation. The fans (and notably Gerd himself) were overjoyed to see a German named Müller, squad number #13, scoring for Germany again after so many decades.

Speaking postgame about his first international goal, Müller said while laughing: “I was just trying to boost the sales of the Müller replica shirts!” – the first of many playful Müller interviews after a masterclass for Germany. 14 years and 44 goals later, Thomas has made that jersey number his as much as it was Gerd’s.

Thomas Müller — forever Germany’s beloved #13.

What once was a need to prove himself and do everything in his power to lead his country to victory turned into a feeling of grounded pride for what he’s greatly helped achieve, but the desire to win never died. Müller, even after everything, still put in the same effort he did on day one.

There was never a dull moment watching Müller play for his country. Not everything has changed — over all these years, Müller has had the same playfulness, the same laugh, the same witty statements that never failed to make fans smile. He is just as loveable as a person as he is as a footballer. “I don’t have any muscles – how can I get hurt?”, or “I already have one Golden Boot, what will I do with another?” Müller captivated audiences with both his football and his words.

Müller playing for Germany is what made myself (and so many others) a fan of the beautiful game – because the game was only beautiful when Müller had the ball. A mesmerized young boy and a superstar footballer formed an unlikely, one-sided bond over the television screen a decade ago, and that bond only strengthened over the years.

As Müller announces his international retirement today, it is difficult to fathom that we might never see such an icon play for Germany ever again. We might never see him celebrate or joke around in the Germany shirt. We might never see someone represent everything German football stood for as well as Müller did. We might never see him film a challenge video with Mats Hummels at the German camp. And we might never forget the heartbreak of his last game for Germany.

Yet we as fans can look back on one of the greatest international careers of all time. His antics on the world stage are some of the best highlights of a career filled with highlights. There is no need to mention his countless achievements for his country – he is the most decorated German player of all time after all. Even then, Müller, who has always had impeccable timing knew exactly when it was his time to depart. He didn’t want to push it or ever make things about himself.

Müller’s iconic moments turned into unforgettable games. Those unforgettable games made legendary tournaments. And those legendary tournaments? They are the crown jewels of an illustrious career.

So here is a thank you, from the bottom of our hearts – thank you for showing us what football is really about. Thank you for some of the greatest memories a football fan could ask for. Thank you for always giving everything on the pitch, and finally – thank you for being yourself. We will never forget Thomas Müller in the iconic German white. Danke, Thomas.

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