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Independent review clears Forge FC assistant coach of racism charge

An independent body has confirmed a Forge FC assistant coach's successful appeal of a racism charge.

Peter Reynders has been fighting to clear his name since being accused of making racist statements after a post-match melee following a Canadian Championship qualifying-round game against Calgary's Cavalry FC on June 4, 2019.

Reynders was serving as interim head coach for the Hamilton club while Bobby Smyrniotis was in Europe at a coaching course.

Reynders denied the charge, saying he was trying to act as a peacemaker during "an unfortunate conclusion to the match.''

Still, he was found guilty in August 2019 by Canada Soccer's Disciplinary Committee of breaching its code of conduct and ethics and suspended for 45 days from all soccer-related activities.

Reynders' appealed the ruling, with an appellate panel siding with him in November 2019. Its ruling overturned the original sanction and asked Canada Soccer to put all the evidence in front of a third-party investigator.

The investigation, undertaken by Sport in Law on behalf of the Canada Soccer ethics committee, confirmed the appeal panel decision.

Forge FC issued a one-sentence statement in response to the ruling, saying it considered the matter closed and would have no further comment.

Canada Soccer also said the matter was over.

"Canada Soccer has a robust and rigorous disciplinary process," it said in a statement "All parties involved were provided due process in accordance with the principles of natural justice and in accordance with Canada Soccer's judicial process and code and conduct of ethics."

Forge FC players spoke out in support of Reynders in June.

In an open letter to Forge owner Bob Young, the players cited "unjust accusations and maltreatment'' of Reynders, whom they called "not only a great coach but an amazing person.''

"We acknowledge your support for coach Peter but it is clear that the process has failed him and us,'' the players wrote.

Young issued his own statement, supporting Reynders and his players.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2020.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press