Nike announced Monday that it will permanently cease its sponsorship of Hockey Canada in the wake of its handling of a high-profile alleged group sexual assault case.
“Nike is no longer a sponsor of Hockey Canada,” a company statement issued Monday said.
“We will continue to provide on-ice product for Hockey Canada athletes as part of our partnership with the International Ice Hockey Federation, but our individual partnership with the federation has ended.”
The sportswear giant first announced a temporary suspension of support last October, at a time when corporate sponsors Chevrolet Canada, Scotiabank and Canadian Tire had also pulled their financial support.
Canadian Tire pulled its support permanently while Scotiabank and Chevrolet Canada paused their support temporarily. CBC News has contacted Scotiabank for an update in light of Nike’s decision. Chevrolet Canada said Monday that it is still taking stock of the situation.
“Chevrolet Canada is encouraged by Hockey Canada’s new leadership,” Natalie Nankil, director of communications for General Motors Canada, said in a statement.
“We are evaluating our direct sponsorship with Hockey Canada to ensure this organization, under its new leadership, fits with our values.”
Hockey Canada has been embroiled in controversy for more than a year over its handling of a $3.5 million lawsuit.
A young woman filed a statement of claim last year alleging eight hockey players sexually assaulted her after a 2018 Hockey Canada gala in London, Ont.
The London Police Service is currently investigating after reopening the case amid significant public interest following an eight-month investigation that originally closed without charges in February 2019.
Unsealed court documents last year revealed London police said they had reasonable grounds to accuse five world junior players of sexual assault.
Using registration fees to settle complaints
The woman, who was 20 at the time, alleges eight unnamed CHL players — including some on Canada’s U20 men’s world junior hockey team — sexually assaulted her on June 19, 2018, according to her statement of claim filed in April 2022.
Hockey Canada was accused in the statement of claim of failing to address systemic abuse in its organization and condoning a “culture and environment that glorified the degradation and sexual exploitation of young women.”
The claims have not been proven in court.
Last year the Globe and Mail reported that a senior employee at Nike Canada was seen buying drinks for national junior hockey players just before the alleged sexual assault, according to unsealed court records.
During the controversy, hockey parents were outraged to learn that Hockey Canada had quietly paid $8.9 million to 21 complainants since 1989 using the national equity fund made up of players’ registration fees without them knowing.
Hockey Canada’s entire board of directors and CEO resigned last fall after months of public scrutiny, and calls from politicians of all stripes and the minister of sport for the organization to overhaul its leadership. Hockey Canada appointed Katherine Henderson as its new president and CEO earlier this month.
Hockey Canada told CBC that it respects Nike’s decision to end their partnership.
“Hockey Canada is appreciative of the longstanding partnership we had with Nike for over two decades and respects their decision not to continue as a Hockey Canada partner,” an emailed statement said.