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07/24/24 11:50:00

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07/24 11:48 CDT Canada women's soccer coach will step aside for the team's opener because of drone incidents Canada women's soccer coach will step aside for the team's opener because of drone incidents By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Soccer Writer SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP) --- Canada women's soccer coach Bev Priestman said Wednesday she'll step away from the team's opening game against New Zealand at the Paris Olympics in the wake of a pair of drone incidents. New Zealand complained to the International Olympic Committee's integrity unit after it said drones were flown over practice sessions earlier in the week. Two staff members --- assistant coach Jasmine Mander and Canada Soccer analyst Joseph Lombardi --- were sent home, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Wednesday. "I am ultimately responsible for conduct in our program," Priestman said in a statement. "Accordingly, to emphasize our team's commitment to integrity, I have decided to voluntarily withdraw from coaching the match on Thursday. In the spirit of accountability, I do this with the interests of both teams in mind and to ensure everyone feels that the sportsmanship of this game is upheld." The Canadians are the defending gold medalists. In her statement, Priestman also apologized to New Zealand. "On behalf of our entire team, I first and foremost want to apologize to the players and staff at New Zealand Football and to the players on Team Canada. This does not represent the values that our team stands for." The COC confirmed Tuesday that a nonaccredited member of Canada's soccer team staff was detained by French authorities after a drone was spotted above training. The COC also apologized to the New Zealand Olympic Committee and New Zealand Football. "The Canadian Olympic Committee stands for fair play and we are shocked and disappointed," the statement said. "We offer our heartfelt apologies to New Zealand Football, to all the players affected, and to the New Zealand Olympic Committee." The NZOC said it and New Zealand Football "are committed to upholding the integrity and fairness of the Olympic Games --- at this time the NZOC's main priority is to support the New Zealand women's football athletes and wider team as they start their campaign." It's not the first time a Canadian soccer team has been involved in a drone controversy involving an international rival's training session. In 2021 at Toronto, Honduras stopped a training session ahead of its men's World Cup qualifier against Canada after spotting a drone above the field, according to reports in Honduran media. The teams played to a 1-1 draw. ___ AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games
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