By Ilyas Hussein and Daniella Lopez
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) men’s soccer team had the suspension of all team activities lifted and were cleared to play their home-opener against the Nipissing Lakers at Downsview Park this past Saturday despite an ongoing investigation.
On Sept. 4, the university released a statement through an email to The Eyeopener stating they had suspended all team activities until further notice as a result of “a report of serious and concerning behaviour.” The university did not confirm the details of the report or investigation.
However, on Sept. 8, TMU deemed the Bold eligible to play on Saturday afternoon. “At this time, based on the investigation to date, the university has determined that the home opener game scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 can proceed. The university continues to assess and address the situation as appropriate,” read the university’s statement to The Eye through email.
Per the updated statement, the university is conducting “a thorough and independent investigation” into the allegations.
Following TMU’s 8-0 victory over Nipissing, only two players, third-year midfielder Juan Pablo Delgadillo and fourth-year defender Brandon Barone, were made available for comment post-game for TMU. Bold head coach Filip Prostran also met with the media.
“To be honest, I’m not certain about all the details. I’ve just been focusing on preparing the team for these games. The investigation is obviously ongoing and we honour and trust the process,” said Prostran about the report made to the university.
According to Delgadillo, the university was made aware of the report “around a week ago,” which then resulted in the forfeited matches last weekend against Nipissing and the Laurentian Voyageurs.
“[It] was when we were first off for training, but that’s all I know,” he added.
Following the university clearing the team to play, the Bold found time for one quick practice before the game that was mainly focused on the upcoming matchup.
“What I told the team was ‘life is full of adversity… you [have] got to find all of the positives in every situation,’” said Prostan.
Coming into the season, the Bold had high expectations for themselves. However, with the ongoing investigation and the recent suspension, they were unsure if they were going to hit the pitch at all this season.
As a result of the forfeited matches on their opening weekend, the Bold were given automatic 3-0 losses to both the Laurentian and Nipissing, per Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regulations. This put them at a 0-2 record—last in the OUA East division—to begin the season.
“With that week off, we didn’t know whether we were going to be out for the whole season or whether we were going to be out for the whole week,” said Delgadillo.
In their debut match on Sept. 9, TMU defeated Nipissing in an 8-0 blowout. During the game, after third-year winger Justin Santos slotted in TMU’s fifth goal of the afternoon he proceeded to make an “X” symbol with his hands while saying, “Free the guys,” which seemed to be about the recent suspension and investigation. However, Prostran believes this isn’t the case.
“I think that’s something from last year, like an inside joke the team had from when we went to nationals,” said Prostran. “Nothing to do with this week. It’s something they’ve been doing for a while.”
Although the Bold can still play, members of the team are still unable to comment on details surrounding the investigation.
“I can’t speak on the investigation. I’m just really happy to be back on the field with the team,” added Barone.
TMU said they will not be providing any further comment or details regarding the situation until the investigation is completed to protect the “privacy, confidentiality and integrity” of the matter.