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Vancouver Whitecaps demote president Bob Lenarduzzi, will hire sporting director

Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi will take a liaison role as the club begins a search to hire a sporting director.

The Vancouver Whitecaps announced major changes to their front office on Friday.

In a two-part statement, the Whitecaps announced they will start an extensive global search to hire a sporting director and that president Bob Lenarduzzi is stepping down to take a club liaison role. The sporting director, once hired, will directly report to ownership, eliminating the role of president from the club structure. 

“These are exciting times in MLS with the league growing at an unprecedented rate both on and off the pitch,” said Whitecaps co-owner Jeff Mallett said in the statement. “We are committed to taking the ‘Caps to the next level, to being championship contenders,” Mallett said “We’ve invested heavily in our soccer operations, from facilities to coast-to-coast soccer programming for boys and girls. Bringing in a sporting director is the next step to take the club forward.

“Whitecaps FC would not be Whitecaps FC without Bob Lenarduzzi. His knowledge, relationships, and history with this club is unparalleled and will be invaluable as we enter our next chapter.”

Lenarduzzi expressed an eagerness to take on the new role, even though it is a step down.

“For me, I’m incredibly passionate about representing this club and brand here at home,” he said. “With the league growing the way it is, now is the right time to inject new leadership into the soccer side of our organization. I am proud to have been with the club every step of the way, and I’m very excited to continue working with our partners at home and abroad as we look toward to the biggest milestone in Canada’s soccer history in 2026.”

Although the change seems amicable, Lenarduzzi has been under pressure ever since members of two women’s teams, the 2008 Whitecaps and U-20 Canadian national team, have lodged serious allegations of abuse toward a former coach employed by the Whitecaps.

Fan groups, in particular, have been unhappy in how the ownership and front office, spearheaded by Lenarduzzi, handled the investigation into the incident.

The victims, led by Ciara McCormack, who levied the allegations in a series of blog posts, wanted an independent investigation that excluded the front office to look into the events that transpired 11 years ago. The club announced an independent inquiry in May, and a first report is expected as early as the end of August. 

Added to the scandal are poor results on the pitch. Two seasons without making the playoffs, and the failure to sign a marquee player, have put a dent in the Whitecaps’ season-ticket renewals. Fan pressure may have led to structural changes at the club. 

For Vancouver to eliminate the role of the president entirely, however, means some significant updates to the club’s recruitment policy.

It will also aid Marc Dos Santos’ rebuild. The head coach has endured a difficult first year in MLS, and although the fans and ownership remain committed to Dos Santos, it has become apparent that the 42-year-old needs some experienced help when it comes to player recruitment.

That help is expected to arrive in the coming months in the form of a sporting director who can navigate an ever-more-complicated transfer market. 

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