Birarda is charged with six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of luring a child, offenses allegedly committed over a period of 20 years between January 1, 1988 and March 25 2008, at or near North Vancouver. , Burnaby and West Vancouver. The names of the four complainants are protected by a publication ban. CBC has learned that at least three of the four are former soccer players.
Birarda is free on bail and has not yet pleaded. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The case is gaining more and more attention outside of Canada as women’s soccer globally comes into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
The world’s largest professional women’s league is in turmoil south of the border where last week two National Women’s Football League players accused prominent coach of sexual coercion.
The NWSL players also accuse the league of being complicit in a cover-up that allowed Paul Riley to continue coaching for six years after one of the players first complained.
Ciara McCormack, the former Whitecaps player who first spoke about Birarda’s alleged abusive behavior, said it was difficult to see the NWSL situation unfold.
“It’s almost like seeing a car accident you’ve been in before,” she said. “Listening to the two women from the NWSL, how they came forward and their description of their situation… is shocking. But then it’s not shocking, because you’ve been through the situation. “
The fallout in the NWSL was immediate. League Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned and Riley was fired and his coaching license revoked.
Birarda still has her Canada Soccer coaching license, according to McCormack.
His court appearance on Thursday was originally scheduled for January 28, 2021, but has been postponed eight times.
A criminal defense attorney not involved in the case said delays are common when suspected historic crimes are involved.
Protect the players. Protect women. It is everyone’s responsibility to meet the standards and enforce accountability. Why are we still dealing with these predominantly male transgressions? This is unacceptable. @NWSL
“It can go on for months depending on the complexity of the case,” said Paul Doroshenko. “Lawyers will have to determine what qualifies and what does not. “
With abuse scandals also unfolding in Australia and Venezuela, McCormack says women’s football is in the midst of a long overdue calculation.
“I think it’s positive because it makes everyone think about what we’ve been through so far, and how much everything really needs to change. “
Birarda was released from his duties as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team and the Canadian women’s Under-20 team in October 2008 with little explanation.
At the time, the Canadian Soccer Association called it mutual separation. A few months later, he coached girls on a club team in Tsawwassen, BC.
He was suspended from his coaching duties at Coastal FC club in Surrey, British Columbia, in February 2019 after McCormack wrote a blog titled “A Horrific Canadian Soccer Story”.
In the months following the blog’s publication, former Team Canada players alleged that Birarda sent sexualized text messages and made sexual comments to players, touched players inappropriately and used her position of power to make sexual advances.