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article imageComox girls soccer team suspends play over fish farm fracas

By Marcus Hondro     Oct 27, 2015 in Sports
A girls U-15 soccer team has been suspended from play due to a dispute concerning the team's sponsor, Marine Harvest fish farm. In the midst of the fracas NHL player Willie Mitchell has stepped in and said he'll sponsor the team.
Marine Harvest as sponsor
The issue revolves around comments made by team player Freyja Reed, 14, who has posted her opposition to fish farms on social media, including Facebook, where she set up a site that protests Marine Harvest sponsoring her team. She's spoken out to others on the team, as has her mother, Anissa Reed, a social activist who has protested fish farms in the past.
It was the Upper Island Riptide under-15 governing body, the Riptide soccer organization, that suspended the team. The CBC in BC got a copy of an email that Sean Arbour, a member of the Riptide Steering Committee, sent to team players over the weekend.
"We have had to pause our 2001 Girls' team events due to continued breach of our organization's code of conduct by the Reed family, and our concern for the privacy and safety of our club's players, parents, and volunteers," the email read.
"We will be meeting with the Reed family to discuss the matter," Arbour added. "And hope to find a solution that may meet the expectations and values of club and family."
NHL player Mitchell tweets
Freyja and her mother say they've breached no code of conduct and insist they're being muzzled by the soccer organization. The suspension of team practices and games, any functions, does not sit well with them and Freyja said she never intended her protest to impact her teammates.
She says she will not stop speaking and not apologize for voicing her concerns. "I know that they (fish farms) are harmful to the wild salmon here," she said.
Meanwhile, BC boy and NHL player Willie Mitchell, from Port McNeill in the north, got involved, tweeting that Freyja was being "bullied" and that "the ability to speak up for what we believe in is why we are so privileged to live in N.A. Freyja Reed I will sponsor you!"
Club claims breach of code
Riptide claims Freyja and her mother violated their code of conduct, which states that "off field activities such as negative comments in social networks, texts, emails, websites blogs, correspondence, bullying, gossip, misinformation, intimidation or any other such activity as related to soccer and the Riptide/Storm program is subject to discipline whether directed at an individual participant, team or impacting the good of the game."
Freyja's mother said she has received an email asking her to stop her criticism of Marine Harvest and their choice of a sponsor and saying that her daughter may be removed from the team if she does not.
Mitchell, a former Vancouver Canuck and the current captain of the Florida Panthers, has contacted Freyja via a Facebook message to follow through on his offer to sponsor the soccer club. It's unclear if that will be the end result.
"Willie Mitchell is an awesome guy, a stand-up guy," Anissa said. "A reflection of the B.C. coast for how he stands up for wild salmon and how he's reaching out as a professional athlete. Anybody would be honoured to have him as a sponsor.
"I would say yes, yes that's awesome," she added. "But that's not my decision to make."
More about girls soccer4 team comox, fish farm disagreement, Marine harvest, freyja reed
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