The Canadian newspaper that published a video of Ottawa Senators hockey players ripping their assistant coach during an Uber ride last month refused to remove the footage from its website.
Michelle Richardson, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, disputed the Senators’ claims that the publication of the video was of “no public interest” and violated the players’ rights.
“The public interest in the Senators as an organization extends beyond the team’s performance on the ice,” Richardson said in a statement published in the Ottawa Citizen. “The organization is involved in one of the biggest development projects in Ottawa’s history, a project that hinges on the Senators being here to play in a downtown arena.
“On-ice performance, ticket sales, attendance, discord in the locker room and public support of the organization are all relevant when it comes to discussing the overall health of the team,” she added.
Video shows several Senators players, including Chris Wideman, Matt Duchene, Chris Tierney, Thomas Chabot, Dylan DeMelo, Alex Formenton and Colin White, ripping assistant coach Martin Raymond. The conversation was caught on camera from an Uber driver in Arizona on Oct. 29. The video was published on the Ottawa Citizen’s YouTube page Monday.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
Meanwhile, the Uber driver who posted the video, a father of six who has since been fired, called the upload "the dumbest decision" of his life, the Citizen reported.
James Sparklin told the newspaper that he only wanted to show his fellow drivers how highly paid athletes behave.
“You get a bunch of guys together and they’ll typically be guys,” he told the paper.
He also said he was concerned that transporting numerous highly paid players posed a financial risk to him if they were to become involved in an accident.
"I don’t believe the insurance would cover it," he said. "The million-dollar policy would go very fast."
Although the video was shot in Arizona, Uber Canada’s General Manager Rob Khazzam said that filming riders in his country without their consent was a violation of their terms of service.
“Filming or recording passengers without their consent is totally unacceptable and if reported/detected we will investigate,” he said.
Canadian law limits the disclosure of a person’s “personal information,” including name, age, income, personal opinions and social status among other provisions, according to the Washington Post. The province of Ontario has similar legislation.
The Canadian government can also restrict speech over national security concerns among other reasons, the Post reported, citing information from Freedom House. The democracy watchdog says Canada has an 18 out of 100 freedom of the press score with 0 being the freest and 100 being the least free.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.