Nike has become the latest sponsors to suspend their relationship with Hockey Canada ©Getty Images

Nike has become the latest company to suspend its relationship with Hockey Canada as the national governing body faces increased scrutiny over its handling of sexual assault allegations.

Hockey Canada has been under increasing pressure to reform since news broke in May of an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the country's 2018 world junior team and subsequent out-of-court settlement.

Earlier this week, Hockey Canada's interim board chair Andrea Skinner defended the current leadership in place at the national governing body, backing Scott Smith, who is currently chief executive and President.

"After further review of Hockey Canada's response, we've suspended our relationship with the federation and paused our support," Nike, one of the world's largest sportswear maker told Reuters.

"We'll continue to monitor the situation and await more information regarding Hockey Canada's actions to address the findings in these investigations and create a safe environment for all athletes.

"Nike believes sport should create a safe, supportive environment for all athletes.

"We're deeply concerned by the ongoing reports around Hockey Canada.

"We believe significant and substantive action is required to support athletes and transform hockey for future generations."

On Thursday, Hockey Québec announced it had stopped paying fees to Hockey Canada as it did not have confidence in its ability to "act effectively to change the culture of hockey with the structure in place".

Tim Hortons and Scotiabank are the major sponsors which have ended their sponsorship of Canada's men's ice hockey teams, after previously suspending their backing.

Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have also ended their sponsorship of Canada's men's ice hockey teams ©Getty Images
Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have also ended their sponsorship of Canada's men's ice hockey teams ©Getty Images

Both have withdrawn for the 2022-2023 season and will not sponsor the World Junior Championships that Canada is hosting in Halifax and Moncton in December and January.

"We've communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organisation needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians," a statement from fast food chain Tim Hortons, one of the most famous Canadian brands, said.

"We're deeply disappointed in the lack of progress that Hockey Canada has made to date.

"We continue to fund Canada's women's and Para hockey teams, as well as youth hockey."

Criticism of Hockey Canada has come from as far up as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels," he said.

"Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada.

"Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada."

The allegations against the unnamed players have not been proved in court but the Canadian Federal Government froze funding to the national governing body over its handling of the alleged sexual assault.

Hockey Canada has since said it will no longer use a fund that was financed by registration fees of players across the country to settle sexual assault claims and also announced a full governance review.

Since the allegations surfaced, Hockey Canada unveiled a plan to "eliminate toxic behaviour" and the body's chief executive said he is the right person to lead efforts for positive change within the sport.