The Vancouver Whitecaps continue to make news for all the wrong reasons, this time concerning a coach with one of their youth programs.
Brett Adams was appointed regional head coach of the Whitecaps’ Kootenay Academy Centre based in Nelson on October 2, 2013. The Whitecaps were happy to get him, which made sense given he was coming to the club after six years coaching youth soccer with Notts County FC – a professional soccer club based in Nottingham, England. A former semi-pro soccer player himself, the youth development program Adams was in charge of produced six professional players.
“When the opportunity came up to bring someone of Brett’s experience and credentials to the Kootenays, we felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to have a permanent Whitecaps FC presence in the area to work more closely with the community, local players, and our partners to help grow our Academy Centre,” Whitecaps FC director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi said at the time.
“We expect our players to honour the code,” Adams said in a 2014 interview with the Nelson Star. “We want to develop honest, trustworthy people with correct principles… It means treat people the way you want to be treated. It means live your values.”
What the Whitecaps didn’t know then was that Adams left Notts County months earlier while being investigated following complaints of racism.
Perhaps they should have, given the news was likely available through a simple Google search. The Mirror reported on the investigation on May 17, 2013, while the BBC had a story published on May 24. Less than five months after those explosive allegations were publicized in UK media, the Whitecaps announced his appointment.
Adams and another coach quit Notts County after allegations of “racist behaviour,” the Mirror reported. One of the allegations was reportedly that Adams had thrown a banana with “f*** off” written on it to a black youth player and said “f*** off and eat it.”
The other coach, Lee Broster, allegedly walked into a changing room while players were listening to rap music and said: “No wonder you black lads always go around stabbing people when you listen to music like that.”
Broster also allegedly walked into a room, switched off the lights and said: “Make sure you black lads smile so I can see you.”
Notts County launched a “stringent investigation.”
“We take any allegations of inappropriate behaviour seriously and will always investigate fully any accusations brought against anyone involved with the club,” Notts County said in a 2013 statement.
Both coaches resigned before a disciplinary hearing took place.
The allegations were serious enough to be looked at by Nottinghamshire Police, the BBC reported.
“It has been reported as a hate incident and it is a third party report,” a police statement said at the time.
“The Vancouver Whitecaps have absolutely zero tolerance for discrimination in any form,” said Whitecaps FC Academy Centre Director Marinos Papageorgopolous in a statement provided to Daily Hive. “Brett was initially recommended to us by a long-time member of our staff. While this was a matter of public record back in 2013, our initial hiring process did not uncover it and it was a few months after Brett was hired that we became aware.”
Charges against Adams were “found proven,” by the Football Association resulting in a six-month suspension and a £1,000 fine.
“Upon hearing the information we contacted those involved in the investigation in Notts county and were told the allegations were groundless,” Papageorgopolous added. “In addition, we were advised a police investigation in Notts county determined there was ‘no case to answer.'”
Despite the allegations, both the Whitecaps and Nelson Youth Soccer have stuck by Adams.
“Alongside our partner club we remained supportive of our coach based on our own findings and his exemplary record over many years.”
“Brett has been an outstanding coach, leader and member of our soccer community,” said Nelson Youth Soccer president Chuck Bennett in a statement. “We are absolutely supportive of him. Our association was made aware at the time and we did not feel pulling Brett out of our association would have been the best thing for our players and volunteers.”