Portland fans join Southsiders in push for Whitecaps to address abuse allegations

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Fans of other teams around Major League Soccer are starting to pay attention to the Whitecaps response to allegations of abuse brought forward by former women’s team players.

Portland Timbers supporters have contacted the Southsiders fan group to ask how they can help in the push for meaningful action from the club — this ahead of a match between the two clubs at BC Place next week.

“We appreciate that they reached out,” says Paul Sabourin-Hertzog, Southsiders vice-president. “It kind of shows that supporters across the league are paying attention to what’s happening here in Vancouver.”

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With the clubs preparing for next week’s match — this buildup to the game is usually reserved for trash talk on social media between Timbers and Whitecaps fans.

But with fan groups here in an ongoing standoff with the Whitecaps’ leadership over the response to abuse allegations brought forward by former women’s players — Sabourin-Hertzog says Timbers fans have reached out asking what they can do to help.

“We are in touch with them,” says Sabourin-Hertzog. “Some of their members had become aware of what was happening around the Whitecaps and asked if there was going to be any response from the Timbers Army (fan group). [Individual Timbers fans] even reached out to us to see if there was anything appropriate for them to do or participate in.”

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The supporters aren’t finalizing plans until they see what the Whitecaps do between now and the match.

“We’re all waiting on the Whitecaps to act on the things they told us they were going to do in the meeting on the 27th,” says Sabourin-Hertzog.

As for the mood of the Southsiders following a meeting with owners and executives, Sabourin-Hertzog will only speak for himself.

“I am frustrated that it has now been almost four full days since we started that meeting with the Whitecaps, and there has yet to be any movement from them on this issue,” says Sabourin-Hertzog.

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The Southsiders and Curva Collective supporters groups have held partial walkouts in the last two Whitecaps home matches, leaving their seats for the final ten minutes of the first half of each game to show solidarity with members of the former women’s team who claim a coach was abusive toward them in 2008.

“While we are rivals on the pitch for 90+ minutes, we Cascadia supporters share common values off the pitch and are more than willing to work in solidarity around issues that we care about,” says Sheba Rawson with the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, a non-profit linked to the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters supporter groups.

“We are aware that supporters met with officials from the Whitecaps front office this weekend, and while this in and of itself is promising it does not necessarily mean the issues are settled. The Timbers Army will be taking our cues from Whitecaps supporters, and if there are ways to act in solidarity with them to address the issues and concerns with how the Whitecaps front office has handled things, we will absolutely be sharing those recommendations with our away travelling support,” Sheba adds.

None of the allegations against that former Whitecaps women’s coach have been tested in court.

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