An elite youth soccer team has been temporarily suspended after video surfaced of the 14- and 15-year-olds attacking a teammate in a hotel room.
The Vaughan (Ont.) Soccer Club is part of the Ontario Player Development League, an organization that helps teenage soccer players prepare for the highest levels of the sport by helping them earn collegiate scholarships, spots on provincial or national teams, or professional soccer careers.
The team was on a trip to Italy to take part in a tournament when the video was recorded. It appears to show a group of boys beating a teammate in his hotel room, leaving him curled in the fetal position and moaning in pain.
A version of the disturbing video, which blurs the faces of those involved, can be viewed here.
Club officials were made aware of the video late Saturday. The Toronto Star reports that one of the players sent it to a friend, whose mother saw it and forwarded it to a media outlet, which then contacted the team.
“It’s disturbing,” Pat DiRauso, the club’s executive vice president, told CityNews. “The video speaks volumes.” In the club’s 35-year history, DiRauso said they “never experienced anything like this.”
The tournament trip, which took place April 8-18, was chaperoned both by coaches and parents. In all, about 24 chaperones supervised the 30 players on the trip.
“All the parents were present,” DiRauso said. “That’s why we don’t understand… Why did none of the children go to the parents?”
Since being made aware of the incident, the entire team was suspended while the club conducts its own investigation. Discipline could be handled internally, or move up the chain to a regional governing body or Ontario Soccer, which governs amateur soccer in the province. The video constitutes violations of both club and Ontario Soccer’s codes of conduct, and some of the players involved could be banned from competition for years.
DiRauso told The Star that the club has not contacted authorities regarding the incident, but added that “If the parent wants to press charges, we welcome them.”