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Vaughan youth soccer players caught on video swarming teammate

Cristina Howorun | posted Tuesday, Apr 25th, 2017

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It’s a shocking video. A group of boys, about 14 years old, roam the halls of a hotel. Some of them are wearing Vaughan Soccer club attire.

“This is not a game,” one boy warns the camera. Another is making a pounding noise with his hands. They knock on the door – a boy opens his hotel room door and the onslaught begins.

The group charges toward him, throwing him onto the bed and pounding on his legs and torso. He gets the upper hand at one point and pins the primary attacker, but quickly gives up when the prime attacker warns: “Don’t touch me, don’t try to touch me boy,” in an eerily threatening voice.

The victim is pinned, face first, and the attacker repeats his warnings while inducing more harm with his hands.

The group leaves and the victim is seen moaning in pain in the fetal position on the bed. In the hallway, the ring leader boasts “I got that n**** fast.” The crowd is laughing.

But Pat DiRauso of the Vaughan Soccer club is not.

“It’s disturbing. The video speaks volumes,” he says.

DiRauso adds that in Vaughan Soccer club’s 35-year history they “never experienced anything like this.”

At the time the video was recorded, two of the club’s elite squads – the under-15 and under-13 teams from the Ontario Player Development League – were on a two-week tournament in Italy. They returned over the weekend and the video is believed to have been shot over the past week.

DiRauso only saw the video this past weekend.

“We’ve suspended the entire (team) as of yesterday afternoon,” he explains of the leadership and athletic program that costs about $3600 a year. “Tonight we are meeting with parents to determine what next steps we will take.”

The club is conducting its own internal investigation, but DiRauso believes it will have to go up the disciplinary chain to the York region Soccer Association, or even Ontario Soccer, which governs amateur soccer province-wide. Monday night’s practice is cancelled.

The activities seen in the video are clear violations of the club and Ontario Soccer’s code of conduct and some of those involved could be banned from competitive play for several years.

The under-15 team, where most of those appearing on the video are believed to play, doesn’t have a game scheduled until early May.

DiRauso isn’t sure if that game will proceed or how many players will be on the field. “Maybe not every player… sometimes it’s not even the player involved, it’s the players standing around and encouraging the act.”

He says about 30 players from the two teams were on the trip, with about 20 parental supervisors and four coaches chaperoning.

It’s believed the swarming happened early one evening, before lights out.

DiRauso admits that a lot is at stake. Ontario Soccer could pull their licence to run an Opdl team which is supposed to focus on athletics and leadership qualities.

But he says the players come first. “No program is more important than our players. ”

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