Fair Play Defense

Campaign Created by: Jonathan Mulder

The funds from this campaign will be received by Jonathan Mulder.

Raised: CAD $ 1,850

My name is Jon Mulder. I have been a volunteer in community and regional-level soccer programs in Central Alberta since 2014, when I first started coaching and was elected president of the Lacombe Minor Soccer Association. I was fortunate to serve Lacombe as president for seven years, during which time we were successful in growing our program, developing players, coaches, and referees.

In 2020, I was elected 2nd vice president of the Central Alberta Soccer Association (CASA), right before COVID hit. The following two years were difficult to navigate, but with a great team we managed to grow our enrollment, add a men’s league to our district, bring a CASA-dedicated technical director on board, and build out a vision for growing the sport within Central Alberta.

In 2022, I was elected president of CASA and since then we have had remarkable success enacting our plans. We increased our district to a record 4,000 players! We have hosted the most coaching clinics of any district in the province. We have grown our girls’ program, reignited the CASA United district team, and began an exciting relationship with our associate member, the Red Deer Dome, and Calgary Cavalry FC – where Cavalry players ran clinics for CASA players and then put on a demonstration.

Overall, the experience of volunteering within Central Alberta has been incredibly rewarding. I have been fortunate to meet many great people, work with fantastic kids, and spend a lot of time with parents and volunteers who are passionate about giving back to their communities – providing excellent athletic opportunities to everyone who wished to participate.

What Changed?

This past October I received an email that I could not let go unanswered.

This email detailed a proposed virtual conference (hosted and organized by Canada Soccer) called the IDEAs Conference. IDEA stands for inclusivity, diversity, equity, and anti-racism. Canada Soccer is looking for initiatives developed and put on by local-level clubs to promote IDEA within their communities.

Over the past few years, the words diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE) have become more pernicious. With the introduction of SQS (Standards of Quality in Soccer), proclamations of adherence to, and promotion of DIE, became mandatory. Saying the words has changed from a suggestion to a requirement. We are moving from “say the words or you don’t get sanctioned to run programs” towards “you must engage in political activism in service of the DIE ideology as a condition of receiving sanctioning to run soccer programs”. The activism is optional – for now – but so was saying the now mandatory words. The sport of soccer is being taken over by those pushing an ideology that has nothing to do with sports at all.

In response to this proposal, I sent a brief email expressing disagreement with what I see as the imposition of Marxist ideology onto sports programs. I expressed disagreement with Alberta Soccer entertaining the idea of having adult volunteers engage in discussions regarding sex and sexuality with other people’s children. I opposed engaging in the bigotry of low expectations (such as claiming participation as a coach is more emotionally burdensome to women than men) and in any discriminatory behavior (such as racially or ethnically segregated spaces or programs), as doing any of those things would be highly inappropriate – not to mention explicitly in violation of several of the articles of the ASA’s own code of conduct.

I sent this short email to several ASA personnel in good faith, fully expecting to receive feedback or discussion, as I am an elected president of a member district in good standing with the ASA. As ASA is the governing body immediately above CASA, I am obligated to bring questions and concerns regarding proposed soccer programming directly to ASA – as it is my obligation to the people who elected me.

That evening I received a call from an ASA recipient of my email asking if I had sent it. I confirmed that I had and that I welcomed any questions or concerns my email raised, saying I was open to having a discussion at any time.

The following morning, I discovered that I had been locked out of my soccer email account. I was advised that the ASA instructed that I was to be cut off from all communications with the soccer community.

I then received an email from ASA informing me that I was immediately suspended from all participation in soccer in Alberta due to my supposedly “offensive” email. I am still unclear what was offensive about it.

Two months after I was suspended, I endured a hearing by an ill-prepared disciplinary committee (in which the chair acknowledged that ASA Discipline & Hearing Procedural Policies had not been adhered to). I still do not know what the allegations against me are; and the Complaint Reports have not been made available to me – nor to the discipline committee prior to my hearing, as is required by ASA policy. Though the complainant (Lisa Grant) was not present at the hearing, members of the committee left the room to speak with her during the hearing. I was denied the opportunity to even hear – or be informed of – what was discussed. Perhaps the most egregious procedural violation was that the discipline committee explicitly refusing to inform me of what the allegations against me are, even when pressed by my legal counsel.

In addition to my suspension notice, I received a letter from ASA lawyers threatening to sue me for defamation. In my opinion, the only defamation occurring has come from the ASA itself. It appears that my supposedly “offensive” email was leaked to media and public comment made to both CBC & CTV – before I had even been informed of a hearing date. This leak and public comment to media appear to be in violation of the ASA’s own policies.

Due to the threats of a lawsuit and nationally broadcast attacks against me – not only by ASA but also by Canada Soccer – I have been forced to retain legal counsel and media relations support, at considerable personal expense. This is no way for provincial and national-level sports organizations to treat the long-serving, dedicated volunteers they rely on. Without local, community-focused clubs run by volunteers, there are no sports for anyone, especially kids.

That is why I’m starting this campaign:

Welcome to Fair Play Defense, where we are committed to defending the principles and timeless values of fairness, transparency, and unbiased treatment for every participant that ensure true equality in the world of community sports.

The Challenge:

Community sports are facing challenges from ideologies that threaten the very fabric of fairness and equal treatment. Fair Play Defense stands as a grassroots response to these challenges, defending the principles that make community sports a true bastion of equal opportunity, unity, and genuine competition.

Our Mission:

Fair Play Defense is embarking on a grassroots campaign to ensure that community sports remain a place where everyone is treated with fairness and respect. We aim to create an environment that champions the rights of every participant, regardless of background, and fosters a culture of genuine equality.

How You Can Support Fair Play Defense:

Donate: Your financial support is crucial for the success of our grassroots campaign. Funds raised will empower us to advocate for true equality and defend against those that seek to undermine the principles of fairness and transparency.

Spread the Word: Share the Fair Play Defense campaign with your friends, family, and fellow sports enthusiasts who believe in genuine equality. Together, we can build a grassroots movement that celebrates the true spirit of community sports.

Together, We Defend True Equality:

Fair Play Defense is not just a campaign; it's a grassroots movement for genuine equality in community sports. Join us in defending the principles that make community sports a space of unity, growth, and unwavering sportsmanship.

Let's ensure that the legacy of community sports remains a beacon of true equality, where the playing field is open to everyone, promoting the authentic spirit of fair play!


UPDATES

Update #1
December 14, 2023
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Linda Slobodian has done some great work summarizing this issue. Please see the linked article.

https://www.westernstandard.news/opinion/slobodian-asa-suspension-of-soccer-association-president-a-warning-to-all-sports-volunteers/50913

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