Ex-Whitecaps player Anthony Blondell charged with sexual assault

Huachipato striker Anthony Blondell is facing a charge of sexual assault in Vancouver, British Columbia, for an alleged incident that took place while the Venezuelan player was contracted with the Vancouver Whitecaps, according to court documents, copies of which were obtained by ESPN.

The Province was the first to report the charges against Blondell and that he was suspended by MLS after the charges were filed. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Blondell's MLS suspension to ESPN. Neither the league nor the Whitecaps immediately provided a comment.

According to court documents, the alleged assault took place on May 12, 2018. Blondell was arrested, but he was subsequently released. No charges were filed until Oct. 8, 2019, by which time Blondell had been loaned to Chilean club Huachipato. According to the website Transfermarkt, the loan was made permanent in January 2020 for a fee of $1.1 million.

Blondell was signed by the Whitecaps just prior to the 2018 season, but scored just one goal in 18 league appearances. The Province reported that once Blondell was loaned out, the Whitecaps no longer considered him their player.

Blondell's arrest predates the tenure of current Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster. In an interview with The Province, Schuster stated that the team was aware of the issue at the time of Blondell's transfer, but that the player insisted he was innocent. Schuster added that Blondell has since been back to Vancouver to be interviewed by authorities.

"It is an ongoing issue. So as long as it's ongoing, there's nothing we can say," Schuster told the Province.

Blondell's next appearance before the Vancouver provincial court is set to take place on Dec. 1, with the trial scheduled to start on Jan. 12, 2021.