Multiple sponsors pulled their support from Hockey Canada on Thursday morning over an ongoing sex assault scandal that has disgraced the program.
Telus, Canadian Tire, and Tim Hortons are among the premier sponsors withdrawing their funding from the organization for sexual misconduct claims going back to the 1980s. Other sponsors such as Skip the Dishes and Sobeys have followed suit.
“We are deeply disheartened by the lack of action and commitment from Hockey Canada to drive necessary cultural change,” Telus said in a statement released on Thursday morning.
The most recent incident involved a settlement paid to a woman who alleged that she was the victim of a sexual assault perpetrated in 2018 by members of Canada’s men’s national junior team.
Hockey Canada has dug in their heels amid public demands for new leadership, a decision that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “nonsensical” and “mind-boggling”.
Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons released a statement Thursday expressing their withdrawal and displeasure with the organization, “We’ve communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organization needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians,” said Tim Hortons spokesperson Michael Oliveira.
“Their corporate sponsors were their biggest source of funding, without a doubt,” says Gregory Ross, a sports kinesiology professor at Western University, “This will be a huge hit. I think they’ll make changes to their leadership in the coming days as damage control.”
Earlier this year, Hockey Canada confirmed that they had paid nearly $9 million in 21 settlements for sexual assault complaints against its players since 1989. It was later reported by The Globe and Mail that these settlements were paid with player registration fees collected by the organization from parents and kids across Canada.
“After careful consideration, Canadian Tire Corporation has made the decision to end its partnership with Hockey Canada,” said Jane Shaw, vice president of corporate communications at Canadian Tire, “In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together.”
“The sport of hockey is bigger than this particular organization,” says Simon Darnell, the director of the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at the University of Toronto, “If this organization chooses to not lead in its current form then it’s totally possible to create another organization which will take the sport in a better, more compassionate direction.”
The organization has yet to release a statement in response to the actions of their sponsors.