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Nike is latest sponsor to sever ties with Hockey Canada over sexual assault allegations

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Nike is the latest major corporate sponsor to withdraw its support of Hockey Canada as the organization faces a growing scandal over its handling of past sexual assault claims. File photo by J√°grmeister/Wikimedia Commons

October 8 (UPI) — Nike is the latest corporate sponsor to withdraw its support of Hockey Canada as the governing body faces a growing scandal over its handling of past sexual assault claims.

“Nike believes that sport should create a safe and supportive environment for all athletes,” the sportswear maker said. said in a press release aired on Canadian broadcaster TSN on Friday.

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing reports regarding Hockey Canada. We believe that significant and substantial action is needed to support athletes and transform hockey for future generations,” the company said.

Other corporate sponsors, including Scotiabank, Telus Communications, Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire have already suspended or terminated their sponsorship of the governing body.

Imperial Oil also said it would not support Hockey Canada’s men’s programs through its Esso brand. Imperial Oil is majority owned by ExxonMobil.

The four biggest sponsors give about $2 million annually to Hockey Canada, TSN reported.

Provincial hockey associations across the country have also begun suspending their annual payments to Hockey Canada, which typically come from registration fees paid by parents when they register their children to play each year.

Hockey NL, the governing body of hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador, became the latest to follow suit when it suspended payments on Saturday, following similar measures from New Brunswick, the Ontario and Quebec.

Hockey Quebec and the Ontario Hockey Federation are the two largest financial contributors among provincial organizations.

In June, the federal government froze its $5.7 million annual funding to the organization, which represents about 6% of its budget.

“I can’t understand how Hockey Canada refuses to accept the reality that they no longer have the trust of parents and Canadians,” said the Canadian Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday.

The loss of funding could to compromise the World Junior Hockey Championships, which generate significant odds. This season’s annual competition, hosted by the International Ice Hockey Federation, is scheduled to take place in Halifax and Moncton, Nova Scotia, from late December to early January.

Trouble began over the summer when it became known that Hockey Canada had reached a financial settlement with a woman who claimed to have been the victim of a group sexual assault at an organized event by the organization in London, Ontario in 2018.

It was later discovered that the organization had paid the settlement using a discretionary fund specifically intended to deal with sexual assault charges, which was generated from player registration fees.

Last week it was reported that Hockey Canada used player fees to create a second fund to pay resolution of complaints of sexual assault.

Police have since reopened a criminal investigation into the 2018 allegations.

Another charge involving an alleged group sexual assault in 2003 was reported weeks after the 2018 allegations came to light.

The organization has been grilled in government hearings, its CEO has resigned and continues to be the subject of an independent investigation by an outside law firm.

So far, a parliamentary committee has found Hockey Canada has paid nearly $6.5 million to 21 plaintiffs since 1989.

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