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Ex-Vancouver Whitecaps FC youth player sues after ‘racially motivated’ stabbing in Burnaby

Ex-Vancouver Whitecaps Academy player Njei (Victor) Akoum is suing 'John Doe' for stabbing him at a party in a North Burnaby parking lot two years ago.
whitecaps stabbing
Emergency crews treat a 17-year-old youth stabbed during an altercation in North Burnaby in August 2021.

An ex-Vancouver Whitecaps FC youth player who says his professional prospects with the club ended after he was stabbed at a North Burnaby party two years ago is suing the person responsible for his injuries.

Emergency crews were called to a gas station near Hastings Street and Kensington Avenue at about 11:40 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2021 for a stabbing, according to police reports at the time.

Police said a 17-year-old youth had been stabbed during a “confrontation” between several people.

Another 17-year-old boy from Burnaby was located and arrested with help from a police dog, according to police.

No charges have yet been laid, but the investigation is still ongoing two years later, according to Burnaby RCMP.

Spokesperson Cpl. Mike Kalanj said he couldn’t comment on the case, but a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week has shed more light on the incident.

Whitecaps FC prospect

Njei (Victor) Akoum, then 17 years old, was a member of the Whitecaps Academy and had just signed an option agreement to play on the club’s Division 2 professional team, when he and three other academy players attended a large party in a parking lot near Hastings Street and Kensington Avenue on Aug. 14, 2021, according to the notice of civil claim.

While at the party, Akoum claims he and the other players (all of whom are Black), approached a person who had “loudly and repeatedly” used the N-word and told him it was “not cool” to use the slur, according to the claim.

The person apologized, the claim states, but about one hour later, a group of 15 to 20 people approached the players.

The person who had used the racial slur was in the middle of the group and said “I hear we had a problem,” according to the claim.

Akoun and his teammates turned to leave without responding, but they were surrounded, the claim states.

Akoun was then sprayed in the face and eyes with bear mace.

The players tried to run away, but Akoun ran into a tree because he was still blinded by the bear spray.

Two other partygoers helped him up and brought him to a nearby gas station, but as one was getting water to rinse Akoun’s eyes, a person ran up to Akoun and stabbed him in the abdomen with a knife.

The person then jumped into the rear passenger door of a car that took off on Hastings.

In a statement after the stabbing, Vancouver Whitecaps FC described the incident as a “racially motivated attack” and called for the “toughest punishment possible” for the perpetrators.

“We will do everything to support our players affected,” read a statement put out by the club a day after the stabbing.

‘Extremely painful and slow’ rehab

Akoum was badly injured, with the knife wounding both his liver and gall bladder and requiring multiple surgeries to fix, according to the claim.

He was at Royal Columbian Hospital for seven days and spent six months recovering at home in Edmonton, Alta.

“His rehabilitation has been extremely painful and slow,” states the notice of civil claim.

By the time his doctor cleared him for physical activity, however, his spot on the Whitecaps’ Division 2 team had been filled by another player and he had to defer his first year at UBC.

He rejoined the Whitecaps Academy in May 2022 but was never offered another chance to join the Division 2 team, according to the claim.

He has since committed to the University of Virginia on a soccer scholarship, but now he is only eligible for three years of scholarship support because of NCAA regulations, according to the claim.

Defendant unknown

Akoun says he suffered loss and damages because of the stabbing, and he is suing the person who did it – even though that person is currently unknown to him.

The defendant listed on the lawsuit is “John Doe.”

“We haven’t found him yet, but we’ll get him. You can report we’ll find him. He won’t escape,” Peter Gall, Akoun’s lawyer told the NOW.

Gall said the lawsuit was filed without the defendant’s name attached in order to protect Akoun’s right to sue, which would have expired on Monday.

“It’s quite common,” Gall said. “You name a John Doe and then, when you find the fellow, you can substitute his real name, but we’ve got to find him.”

The allegations in the notice of civil claim have not been proven in court.

No response has yet been filed.