Nike suspends Hockey Canada partnership in wake of sexual assault allegations
Nike announced on Friday that it has suspended its partnership with Hockey Canada, as the national governing body faces scrutiny over how it handled sexual assault allegations.
Hockey Canada had its funding frozen by the federal government after news of an alleged group sexual assault involving members of Canada’s 2018 World Cup junior team, and a related out-of-court settlement, broke in May.
As part of a statement obtained by Reuters, Nike confirmed that it had suspended its relationship with the federation and “paused” support “after further review of Hockey Canada’s response” to the scandal.
“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and await more information regarding Hockey Canada’s actions to address the findings in these investigations and create a safe environment for all athletes,” it added.
Nike said it is “deeply concerned by the ongoing reports around Hockey Canada” and believes “significant and substantive action is required to support athletes and transform hockey for future generations,” adding that “sport should create a safe, supportive environment for all athletes.”
The allegations against the unnamed junior team players have not been proven in court, but Hockey Canada has vowed not to use a fund financed by player registration fees to settle sexual assault claims moving forward.
Hockey Canada has also announced a full governance review, and a plan to “eliminate toxic behavior” in the sport.
In Hockey Canada’s defense, interim chair Andrea Skinner claimed before a Canadian Heritage committee in Ottawa this week that toxic behavior “exists throughout society.”
“Suggesting that toxic behavior is somehow a specific hockey problem, or to scapegoat hockey as a centerpiece for toxic culture is, in my opinion, counterproductive to finding solutions, and risks overlooking the change that needs to be made more broadly, to prevent and address toxic behavior, particularly against women,” she said.
On Friday, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage and Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold released a joint statement demanding change in Hockey Canada ahead of the World Junior Championship starting in their cities on December 26.
“We believe we have the local expertise and experience to welcome the world’s best young hockey players to our cities, but we are deeply concerned about Hockey Canada’s lack of judgment and professionalism.
“We look for meaningful changes within Hockey Canada prior to the World Junior Championship taking place in our cities,” they said.