Major League Soccer has launched an independent investigation into the Vancouver Whitecaps’ handling of misconduct allegations against former women’s coach Hubert Busby Jr., the league announced Friday night.
MLS is hiring an independent counsel to oversee the investigation into the allegations. The findings will be released to the public.
"The investigation will include a review of the club's internal processes and overall culture at the time as well as recommendations on preventative measures to ensure that all players and staff under the Whitecaps organization umbrella work in a safe environment, free of all forms of harassment and fear of retaliation," MLS said in a statement, via The Associated Press. "The league and club will publicly release the findings and recommendations of the investigation."
MLS investigating sexual harassment claims
United States player Malloree Enoch told The Guardian that Busby had promised to sign her as a player and then repeatedly made her room with him on trips and tried to pressure her for sex between 2010 and 2011.
Once in 2010, Enoch said she was flown to Los Angeles to take part in a trial game for the Whitecaps — something Busby told her would secure her place on the team.
“He picked me up [at the airport] and brought me to the hotel and there was also supposed to be another coach, but no one else showed up,” Enoch told The Guardian. “He took me in the elevator up to my room and he was following me like he was going to show me the room. When we opened the door all his stuff was in there. He said the club messed up and they would figure it out when we got back [from a restaurant]. When we got back he went straight to the elevator to go up and I stopped in the lobby. He said that he had called the club and there was nothing they could do about it.”
There was no game, and nobody else with the team was in Los Angeles at the time. She said Busby didn’t make any sexual advances during that trip, but that it left her in an incredibly uncomfortable position.
Enoch reportedly told team development director Dan Lenarduzzi about Busby’s behavior in 2011, but no action was taken. Eventually, a group of players joined Enoch and told management about multiple issues with Busby’s treatment.
Busby’s contract with the team expired in 2011. The 52-year-old has since been named the head coach of the Jamaican women’s national team. He is due to meet with the Jamaican Football Federation about the allegations next week.
Whitecaps said they investigated in 2011
Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster said this week that the club investigated Enoch’s allegations in 2011, which is why Busby’s contract was not renewed.
"We have since learned that the investigation did not reveal certain allegations that were disclosed this week," Schuster said in his statement, via The Associated Press. "Our communication with players, staff and the soccer community as to the reasons for Busby's departure was also inadequate. We should have done better, and for that we are deeply sorry."
Busby denied the allegations made against him to The Guardian, and said that his contract wasn’t renewed only because the team wanted to go in a different direction. After his time with the Whitecaps, Busby also worked for the Western New York Flash and the Seattle Sounders women’s team.