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Hockey Canada chief, board quit after rape scandal revelation

The head of Hockey Canada and its entire board of directors have resigned following revelations that the sport’s governing body used shady funds to pay off sexual abuse victims.

“Recognising the urgent need for new leadership and perspectives, the entire Board of Directors announced it will step aside,” Hockey Canada said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also said that an interim management committee will be put in place to guide the organisation until a new board, which is set to be elected in December, appoints the departing executive chief’s successor.

Federal Minister of Sports Pascal St-Onge called on Tuesday’s changes “the right decision” and “a step toward restoring Canadians’ confidence in the organisation.”

The suit was filed against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and eight players, some of whom represented Canada at the 2018 World Junior Hockey championships and went on to play in the NHL.

The federation reached a financial agreement in the spring with the accuser, now 24.

Hockey Canada has been in turmoil since gang rape accusations against the body were revealed in June, raising questions about the organisation’s settlement of a lawsuit filed by the alleged victims two months earlier.

Since the revelations, more alleged gang rapes have come to light, and Hockey Canada has revealed it paid out millions of dollars in settlements to nearly two dozen complainants with sexual misconduct claims over the past three decades.

Criticism from all sides

The departing chief executive of Hockey Canada, Scott Smith, has been under withering criticism from athletes, lawmakers and even sponsors.

It was recently revealed in the media that Hockey Canada had two slush funds to settle payments for victims of sexual assault.

Sponsors, such as the Tim Hortons restaurant chain, Nike and Scotiabank, have cut ties with the sports federation in recent weeks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended the organisation’s public funding in June, opening the door to an overhaul at the highest level of the federation.

“It’s time for them to go,” he said told journalists last week.

Bauer Hockey also paused its partnership as the official equipment provider for Hockey Canada’s men’s teams and its sponsorship of men’s tournaments, calling the repeated breach of trust by the national organisation’s leadership “extremely disturbing.”

The Quebec hockey federation froze its subsidies to Hockey Canada last week, saying this outcome was “inevitable.”

“Now, it is essential for us that future administrators take concrete actions to… change with regards to respect, integrity and culture,” Hockey Quebec said.

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