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Soccer Sports

Following the Africa Cup of Nations from across the Atlantic Ocean

Eight thousand kilometres away from Concordia University, 24 African countries have battled it out at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

After a month of competition, hosts Côte d’Ivoire defeated Nigeria in the 2023 AFCON final on Sunday, the tournament’s most exciting edition in recent memory. For example, none of the eight quarter-finalists in 2022 have made the same stage this year.

A tournament that brings people together

Soccer distinguishes itself from many other popular sports by how easy it is to play. The fact that you only need a ball to play has catapulted the sport into worldwide popularity. This is no different in Africa, where it’s bringing people together through AFCON.

Malik Lee, a Nigerian Concordia student, says his country unites behind the Nigerian national team during AFCON tournaments. “There’s a lot of diversity, like 300 languages, multiple tribes. So it’s one thing that really puts everybody together,” he said. 

National teams can also turn enemies into friends. Mohamed Hazem Bonna, President of the university’s Egyptian Association, says games between Al Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs, often get heated. “When they play against each other, in Egypt after the match, there will be a lot of fights, a lot of insults and whatever because the passion is crazy there in Egypt,” he said. 

However, when the Egyptian national team plays, these rivalries disappear momentarily. “We all play with each other, as Zamalek players play with Al Ahly players. So we’re all one hand. We’re all supporting the national team,” Bonna said.

Such an important tournament inevitably sees cultural and political rivalries play out on the pitch. However, Lee believes these rivalries create a sense of unity within Africa during the competition. “And it’s so funny because it brings us together through us fighting,” he said.

Côte d’Ivoire rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Before the start of the tournament, Côte d’Ivoire would have been among almost everybody’s group of favourites to lift the AFCON trophy. Not only did they have one of the best squads on paper in the tournament, but they were also hosting the competition. 

After a 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau to open the tournament, they lost 1-0 to Nigeria and 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea to finish the group stage. Things looked so bad for Côte d’Ivoire that head coach Jean-Louis Gasset even resigned after the group stage. However, due to multiple favourable results in other groups, they finished as the fourth-best third-place team, the last qualifying spot for the round of 16.

The round of 16 marked the beginning of a dramatic redemption story. It saw Côte d’Ivoire eliminate reigning champion Senegal on penalties. In the quarter-finals, they scored in the 90th minute to force extra time, scoring yet again in the last minutes of extra time to beat Mali. A 1-0 win in the semifinal over the Democratic Republic of the Congo set up a rematch with Nigeria in the final. To the delight of the home crowd, they would win it by the score of 2-1, after two second-half goals by Franck Kessié and Sébastien Haller.

Nearly a first title in 11 years for Nigeria

Before the knockout round, The Concordian spoke with many Nigerian students during an inter-university soccer tournament organized by Concordia’s Nigerian Students Association. These students shared what they believe it would have meant for them to see their country win the AFCON for the first time since 2013.

Faisal Audu was pessimistic about Nigeria’s winning chances. “I really hope we can win because I’m not really positive about them. But it’s gonna be a good thing if we can win. Because I’m gonna brag a lot,” he said while smiling. “I have friends from countries that are better than us, like Senegal.”

Josh Njoku is a big supporter of the Nigerian national soccer team. “I support the Nigerian national team a lot, more than the usual Nigerian, you know? Despite all the mess-ups and all the bad times, I continue to support the players,” he said. A win after 11 years would indeed have meant a lot for supporters like Njoku.

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Soccer Sports

The Palestinian national soccer team: A story of resilience

Palestine’s dream at the AFC Asian Cup ends in the round of 16.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Palestinian national soccer team made history in Qatar just 1,800 km from Gaza, bringing some positive energy to a country ravaged by a war that has seen the death of over 25,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7.

Under the lights in Doha, Palestine scored three goals against Hong Kong to capture their first-ever victory in an AFC Asian Cup match. This win, coupled with a 1-1 draw obtained against the United Arab Emirates five days prior, meant that Palestine also qualified for the Asian Cup knockout stage for the first time in their history.

Sara, whose last name was withheld at her request, is originally from Gaza but now lives in Montreal with her immediate family. 

After witnessing the horrors happening in the Gaza Strip and knowing some of her family is there, she expressed some desolation toward the participation of Israeli athletes in international sports competitions. A ban on Israeli athletes would not have been an unprecedented measure. For example, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, sporting federations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) banned Russia from participating in sporting events. Although these bans have been partly lifted since, neither the IOC nor FIFA have done the same for Israel.

When she was younger, Sara never expected to see her country represented at the big sporting events. In that sense, she believes the Palestinian national team’s achievements exemplify the Palestinian people’s resilience. “Whenever you see a Palestinian, know that they have worked 1,000 times harder to be where they are today,” she said. 

Some Palestinians are writers, some are journalists, some are poets, and some are soccer players, but they all fight to represent their country, she explained. If she’d had the opportunity to speak with the players and tell them one thing before their round of 16 match against Qatar, it would have been to play as if they were fighting for their lives. 

And fight they did. It was always going to be a hard task for Palestine, who had to face Qatar, the reigning Asian Cup champion and host of the tournament. Despite being the underdog, it was Palestine who would strike first in the 37th minute. After a clever interception by Zaid Qunbar, striker Oday Dabbagh scored his third goal of the tournament with a well-placed shot in the bottom right corner. However, two Qatari goals, one just before and after halftime, would ultimately deny Palestine of an even more historic run in the AFC Asian Cup.

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Soccer Sports

CF Montréal: New year, new coach, new hopes.

CF Montréal hopes to bounce back after a disappointing 2023 season.

In 2023, CF Montréal narrowly missed the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs on the last day of the season, and lost the Voyageurs Cup final—a cup competition between all professional and some semi-professional Canadian clubs—to the Vancouver Whitecaps. This disappointing season resulted in the club parting ways with head coach Hernán Losada after just one season, citing differing visions concerning the club’s future and style of play. 

On Jan. 9, CF Montréal president Gabriel Gervais unveiled Laurent Courtois as the team’s new head coach and clearly outlined the club’s sporting objectives. “We want to make the playoffs and have the opportunity to fight for the MLS Cup. We want to win the Canadian championship and return to the CONCACAF Champions League,” said Gervais when presenting Courtois.

Laurent Courtois: “It’s almost an adult dream.”

For the past two seasons, Courtois was the head coach of Colombus Crew’s reserve team. There, he led the team to two MLS NEXT Pro Cups, of which they won one. His experience coaching youth teams and developing players was an advantage compared to other candidates for his newly acquired position, considering that CF Montréal had the fourth youngest squad in MLS last season.

However, CF Montréal is a notoriously difficult place for managers, with Courtois being the team’s 10th head coach in 13 years since joining the MLS. Despite having signed a two-year contract, he hopes to stay with the team for a long time, although he knows about the team’s history of quickly firing coaches. “I have promised [the club] two things: an identity and energy. So [whether I stay for] six months, three years, 10 years, I hope, I want the players, the club, the people I work with to develop each other,” he said in his inaugural press conference.

Courtois has clear objectives in terms of what he wants to achieve in Montreal. “What I want to emphasize is individual player development […] especially with that pool of players,” he explained during his inaugural press conference. He also wants his team to have an attractive and recognizable style of play that can clearly be attached to Montreal.

Who’s in, who’s out?

CF Montréal’s squad has changed quite a bit since the end of last season, although it is not quite the exodus of talent as was seen last year. The team’s most significant loss is forward Romell Quioto, off to Tractor S.C. in Iran. Despite an injury-plagued 2023 season, he was still an important player, having scored 38 goals in 94 games for the club. Although he is yet to be numerically replaced, CF Montréal has presumably found their new forward. The club might be considering Uruguayan striker Matías Cóccaro, whom they are heavily linked with. Cóccaro has even already said his goodbyes to the fans of his previous club, Club Atlético Huracán, in Argentina, on social media.

However, CF Montréal’s main changes have come in the wingback positions. On the left, the club has spent US$400,000 in 2024 General Allocation Money (GAM) for former Canadian international Raheem Edwards, who is back in Montreal after a short spell in 2018. On the right, the team has traded Aarón Herrera to D.C. United in exchange for their right wingback, the Brazilian footballer Ruan and US$500,000 GAM in 2024. Both Edwards and Ruan are expected to be starters and improve what was one of CF Montréal’s weaknesses in 2023.

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Football Rugby Soccer Sports

These Concordia semi-final results may sting

The men’s soccer, rugby and football teams all exited in the first round of the RSEQ playoffs this past week.

The time has come to start playing indoors again. Fall and summer sports are wrapping up as the weather gets crispier and heads turn towards sports with freshly renewing seasons. 

That being said, it seems our teams are ready to get a head start on hibernation. Three playoff games were played by the Stingers, and all three of them turned out to be losses. 

Men’s Soccer

On Oct. 27, the men’s soccer team played the Université de Montréal Carabins in a tough RSEQ semi-final matchup at the CEPSUM. The Stingers not only had an away disadvantage walking onto the field, they were also the underdogs. Of the seven teams in the RSEQ, the Stingers finished the regular season in fourth place, securing the very last spot of the playoffs, with only five victories out of 12 games. Meanwhile, the Carabins finished the season without a loss. 

The Carabins yet again proved why they averaged over two goals per game throughout the season: efficiency. Even though Concordia outshot them six goals to four in the first half, the home team was able to convert twice, once from a penalty kick by centre back Kareem Sow. 

Tristan Nkoghe jumps for a high ball
Photo Credit: Concordia Stinger Athletics

The Stingers weren’t too disciplined around the pitch, as they outfouled their opponents and picked up three different yellow cards in the second half, seemingly out of frustration. The third was given out less than three minutes after the final deal-sealing goal was scored. The Carabins won 3-0. Surprisingly, they lost in the finals to the 6-5-1 Patriotes of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières last Friday. 

Men’s Rugby

It was more or less the same story for the men’s rugby team, who were just able to squeeze into a playoff spot. Bishop’s 15-25 season finale loss at Stade Percival-Molson pushed the Stingers through by point differential, as both the Gaiters and Concordia finished the season with a .500 win percentage. 

Jack Weller and Willem Nijzink make a tackle.
Photo Credit: Concordia Stingers Athletics

For the semi-final game played this past Sunday, Oct. 29, the Stingers had to face the Piranhas of the École de technologie supérieure, who were invincible in the regular season. Lo and behold, another crushing semi-final away loss as Concordia was vanquished 34-3. Five different players each scored a try on the Piranhas, including third line Xabi Chrit, who won game MVP. On Nov. 5, ÉTS lost 18-17 in the finals to the second place uOttawa Gee-Gees. 

Football

Just about the most exciting game of the RSEQ’s 2023 season took place in Quebec City on Nov. 4 when the Stingers football team faced the Université Laval Rouge et Or for the semi-finals. This time around, the Concordia team had a more even matchup, as the Stingers were facing a two-seed as a three-seed in the playoff bracket. ULaval did not play the dominant season everyone expected them to, as they had taken both of their losses to the Carabins, yet Concordia had beaten the latter in their last game of the season. This matchup was a real shootout. 

It started with a safety for Concordia heading into the third minute of the game, putting the Rouge et Or ahead by two points and setting the Stingers at a disadvantage. In the first drive of the second quarter, starting quarterback Oliver Roy threw an interception to Rouge et Or linebacker Justin Cloutier, who took it to Concordia’s 27-yard line. From there, a pass and a one-yard QB sneak took the Rouge et Or ahead by 9 points, then 10 due to a rouge point. 

Just as a 28-yard kick from all-star kicker Eric Maximuik seemed to restore momentum to the Stingers headed into the second half, substitute quarterback Adrian Guay decided to scramble around the halfway line and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the opponents’ cornerback Maxym Lavallée, who ran it to the house for 49 yards. Laval led 17-3 after the good kick attempt.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Olivier Roy had been back on the field, and managed to throw a stellar 20-yard pass to veteran fifth-year wideout Ezekiel Tiede for a touchdown. The game was on. The Rouge et Or replied with a 22-yard passing touchdown of their own to widen their lead to 14 points, but that didn’t stop the Stingers. 

Our field general put on a fourth quarter showcase. The very next play, Roy threw a bomb to his trusty wideout Tristan Mancini for 37 yards and then another to Tiede. A couple of handoffs to the running backs, and Roy found the endzone after an eight-yard run. The Stingers defense banded together to shut the Rouge et Or down for a drive amounting to less than 15 yards, and it was Roy’s chance again.

With two and a half minutes left of the game, Roy managed to lead a drive that lasted just over a minute and score a touchdown in six plays, topped by a pass to Tiede for 34 yards into the endzone. Not to mention Roy capped off his night by tying the game and by asserting his sixth point of the night out of six points attempted. The teams tied 24-24 at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately, the Stingers did not have it in them to maintain the progress that they’d made over 60 minutes. A couple of 40+ yard field goals and a touchdown from the Rouge et Or, and Concordia’s season was over. 

A few Stingers players had performances to remember, despite overall shortcomings. Roy had 310 passing yards and the third most rushing yards on the field with 51. Defensively, middle linebacker Loïk Gagné dominated the game with 9.5 tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss. The whole receiver core should be recognized for the work they all put in, Tiede especially. 

It’s an exciting year to be a Concordia fan, although the ending may sting. All three of these teams surpassed what was expected of them. The future seems bright!

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Soccer Sports

Heartbreak for Canada as Christine Sinclair plays one last time in Montreal

Canada’s women’s soccer team lost 1-0 to Brazil on Oct. 28 at Saputo Stadium in Montreal.

After Canada was eliminated in the group stage during a disappointing World Cup performance this summer, the women’s national soccer team turns to the 2024 Olympic Games. With qualification secured after two convincing wins against Jamaica in September, the road to redemption continued on Oct. 28 at Saputo Stadium in Montreal for the first of two friendly matches in four days against Brazil.

Record-breaking crowd, disappointing performance

A sold-out crowd of 19,619 people gathered at Saputo Stadium for the game. This attendance figure is a national team record for a friendly match in Quebec, men and women combined. It once again proves the enthusiasm for women’s soccer in Canada. Three years ago, 4.4 million people watched the Olympic triumph in Tokyo and women’s national team matches regularly sell out everywhere in the country.

The crowd gives a standing ovation to Christine Sinclair as she comes on in the 68th minute.
Photo: Félix-Antoine Beauchemin.

It was always bound to be a close affair between the two teams, with Canada ranked 10th in the world and Brazil only one place higher. The local favourites came out strong and dominated the initial minutes. However, as the game progressed, Brazil gradually took control of the match and looked to be a far more dominant team. For example, Canada’s first shot of the second half only came in the 92nd minute. 

Despite this, they looked to be able to hold for a 0-0 draw, notably due to multiple great saves from Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who was undoubtedly the team’s best player on Saturday. But Brazil’s domination paid off. In the last minute of the game, Débora ‘Debinha’ Cristiane de Oliveira’s shot ricocheted off two Canadian defenders, giving Sheridan no chance to react in time. The ball bounced over the line, much to the delight of the thousands of Brazil fans also present at the game.

Brazilian legend Marta takes a free-kick.
Photo: Félix-Antoine Beauchemin

Nevertheless, Canada got back on track only three days later, beating Brazil 2-0 in front of another sold-out crowd in Halifax on Halloween night, with goals from Jordyn Huitema and Deanne Rose.

A farewell to the greatest international goalscorer of all time 

On Oct. 20, Christine Sinclair announced that she would retire from the national team at the end of the year. Now aged 40, she played her first game for Canada in 2000. Since then, Sinclair has played 329 games and scored 190 goals, a record for international goals for both men and women. For most of the fans at the game, it was their last chance to see Canada’s legendary number 12 in action. As such, they gave her a standing ovation, lasting over 30 seconds when she entered the game in the 68th minute.

Sinclair’s illustrious career also contains many collective achievements. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she scored six goals in six games on her way to the bronze medal. She helped the team repeat the feat in Rio in 2016 with another bronze medal. However, the crowning glory of her career came at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, when she captained team Canada to a gold medal.

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Soccer

 Concordia Stingers Men’s Soccer draws 0-0 in defensive Duel

Both the Stingers and Carabins failed to find back of the net in season opener

The Concordia Stingers Men’s Soccer team kicked off against local rival Montreal Carabins at Concordia Stadium on August 30.

Following the Stingers women’s team’s lead, the men would be in for a tough test as the Carabins finished atop the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) standings in 2022. This match would also serve as an opportunity for revenge, as the Carabins shot down the Stingers’ hopes of a play-off berth last season.

Several new players made their Stingers debut, as injuries and the loss of ten graduates from 2022 were absent from the roster. Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton says the biggest challenge was the loss of their graduates last year. “We have to understand that not everything is going to happen overnight,” he said. “There will be some time and progression for this team, but we will get there and we will be better in those big moments of the game.”

The first half of the match saw the Carabins come close to scoring on several occasions. A shot glanced off the crossbar which bounced in the Stingers’ favour and stayed out. Twenty minutes later, a Montréal corner kick led to another close call, this time ringing a shot off the post. That being said, the Stingers persevered.

The second half offered much more even playing surface. While the Stingers’ offensive opportunities were hard to come by, their defence was the story of the second half. Stingers’ goalkeeper David Desbarets stopped all eight Carabins shots on goal throughout the match, earning the fourth-year goalkeeper player of the game honours.

Yellow cards and free kicks were all that filled the game sheet in this match, as the game concluded with a score of 0-0.

Coach Sutton reflected on the tightly-contested affair postgame. “This first game was more about the resilience we showed, in the sense that the character we showed was strong,” he said. “We were able to do what we were able to do and get the result against a good team.”

The Stingers will head across town to face their next opponent, the McGill Redbirds, at 1:00 pm on September 3.

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Sports

Co-captains to coaches: Chloe Ricciardi’s and Madeleine McKenzie’s soccer journeys

The former Concordia Stingers’ women’s soccer co-captains are now assistant coaches on the team

Chloe Ricciardi and Madeleine McKenzie have had pretty different paths leading them to the Concordia Stingers’ soccer program, but they ended up being co-captains in 2020 and 2021 and were both named assistant coaches in the summer of 2022.

While Ricciardi was starting her bachelor’s degree at the University of Detroit Mercy in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, McKenzie was in her last year of high school in Calgary playing for the Calgary South West United Soccer Club.

A year later, McKenzie moved to Montreal to start her bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology at Concordia, graduating in May 2021.

“My mom’s family is actually from Montreal, so I would visit every summer and I just knew I liked it a lot here,” McKenzie said about her decision to come to Concordia to study. “And my parents encouraged me to go away for school just to become more independent.”

On the other hand, Montreal native Ricciardi had always wanted to play in the U.S. growing up, but that dream seemed less and less possible when she felt a little lost in her studies in social sciences at John Abbott College.

However, shortly after that, things started turning around for Ricciardi.

“I did a showcase tournament in Las Vegas with a few of my friends, and then that’s where the school that I went to saw me play,” she explained. “I got home, they called me immediately and offered me a scholarship, and I was like, ‘okay, I guess we’re going to the States.’”

Ricciardi remembers it happening really fast, which is mostly because she got signed later than most people.

“I was a late sign because normally in the States, they sign people in their second-to-last year of high school,” she added.

Ricciardi got her bachelor’s degree in social work at Detroit Mercy, and came back to Montreal afterwards, which is when she joined Concordia’s soccer team. She originally started a master’s degree in child studies, but switched to a graduate diploma in business after a year. She finished her diploma in the fall of 2021.

McKenzie, who still had a year of eligibility left after earning her bachelor’s degree in May 2021, decided to start another undergraduate degree the following fall semester, majoring in exercise science. She’s now in the second and last year of her major while coaching.

McKenzie and Ricciardi didn’t join Concordia’s soccer program at the same point in their careers, with McKenzie coming in straight out of high school as opposed to Ricciardi having an undergraduate degree already. However, Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton said it was clear from the moment they joined the team that they were both natural leaders.

“[McKenzie] was able to communicate with everyone in different ways. […] She was very level-headed and understood how to have the right conversations and the right wording no matter what the situation was with the group, whether we were struggling or having success,” Sutton said. 

“As a coach, I felt comfortable that she was going to be able to help lead the group in that way from her perspective as a student-athlete, a well-rounded student-athlete of course, as well as an academically smart person.”

McKenzie and Ricciardi were co-captains from the winter of 2020 until the fall of 2021, when Ricciardi graduated. McKenzie remained captain until her graduation in May 2022.

“[For] Chloe it was a little different because she came in after spending a few years in the States,” Sutton said. “She basically came in as a graduate student. So she had a little bit more maturity under her belt.”

“She received respect right away from the girls just because of the quality of player she was,” Sutton added, also mentioning her ability to say the right things and help the team during tough times.

Ricciardi found that being captain helped her settle into her role as a coach.

“You still have to be somewhat of a leader, I guess,” Ricciardi said. “I think the biggest part was just figuring out what I think I could have done better, and then doing it better now.”

McKenzie, however, saw more differences than similarities. She said that as captains, they were leading a lot of the conversations, and encouraging the team, but as coaches, they have to let the girls in the leadership roles do it.

“You still need to guide. […] But I think it needs to come from them because they’re the ones on the field, they’re the ones doing the work,” McKenzie explained.

The Calgary native still plays in her hometown during summers for the Alberta Major Soccer League. She started in 2017 and plans to keep playing there.

But the future remains uncertain for her in coaching and academia, as she hopes to get into medical school next year.

“It kind of depends on what happens with that,” McKenzie said. “Because obviously, if I get in I’m not going to reject an admission letter. But if I don’t get in, I still have to figure out what I would do. But if I’m here and available, I would definitely like to keep coaching.”

Ricciardi also plays during summers in the Première ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ), a semi-professional league. She played for Pierrefonds FC in the summer of 2021, and for FC Laval this past summer. Ricciardi wants to keep coaching at Concordia, as well as playing semi-pro for a few more years “up until [her] body can’t handle it anymore.”

Just like McKenzie, Ricciardi isn’t sure what the future holds for her. Getting licensed to coach at a higher level could be an option, but so is almost anything else.

“I’m not sure if I want to follow that path, we’ll see when the time comes,” Ricciardi said. “But for sure at Concordia, I’d like to be here for a while.”

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Sports

I’m not watching the World Cup this year

Qatar’s record of basic human rights violations makes the World Cup a farce

The first games of the 2022 Qatar World Cup are underway and even though I usually follow the World Cup diligently, I can’t bring myself to watch a single match this year, and I know I’m not the only one.

FIFA has rightfully received tons of backlash since it announced Qatar as the host country due to the country’s constant disregard of basic human rights, including workers’ and LGBTQ+ rights. All of those violations were also documented and known even in 2010 when FIFA officials voted to choose Qatar as the host country in 2022.

In fact, in 2012, the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch published a report detailing its concerns that “hundreds of thousands of mostly South Asian migrant construction workers in Qatar risk serious exploitation and abuse, sometimes amounting to forced labor.” The report especially targeted the construction of infrastructures linked to the World Cup.

As for LGBTQ+ rights, simply put, they are non-existent. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden under Islamic Sharia law and punishable by either fines, imprisonment, or lapidation (stoning). Although there are no documented cases of the death penalty being enforced in that context, there is no shortage of testimonies from LGBTQ+ Qataris being severely beaten due to their gender expression or sexual orientation.

Due to Qatar hosting the World Cup amid all these human rights violations, some are accusing the country of sportswashing, which is defined as the practice of restoring one’s reputation by hosting huge sporting competitions, buying sports teams, and/or participating in competitions, all of which Qatar is doing through the World Cup despite not even having a big soccer culture in the first place. 

Earlier this year, the Beijing Winter Olympics was also a “great” example of sportswashing. The Chinese government’s genocide and general abuse of human rights against Uyghurs and other religious minorities, as well as their repression of protests in Hong Kong, hid conveniently behind a grandiose large-scale event and beautiful ceremonies.

The International Olympic Committee refused to acknowledge the situation. “It’s a complex world,” they twice told a journalist from The Guardian.

The World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest international sporting event in the world. Roughly two million tourists are expected to attend the World Cup in Qatar. However, this year, Canadian tourists attending the event are being told by their own government to “dress conservatively and behave discreetly” for their own safety and to steer clear of trouble with authorities. 

Now, it’s one thing to abide by a country’s laws and culture, but it’s hard to support a country that wouldn’t respect me as a woman, a queer person, and a journalist.

It’s worthwhile to mention that this column would have been impossible to write if I were in Qatar. According to Reporters Without Borders, the World Cup host ranked 119 out of 180 countries on the basis of press freedom due to the hardships reporters encounter when covering local political issues. Human Rights Watch even had to publish its Human Rights Guide for Reporters to inform and help out journalists in their endeavours in Qatar.

It’s disappointing to see FIFA making their decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar solely based on profits. International sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics could be great opportunities to strengthen diplomatic ties between countries in a world that is constantly shaken by conflict.

I thought it would be common sense, but apparently it’s not.

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Sports

Stingers men’s soccer come up short 2-4 against Montreal in crucial game for playoff spot

The Stingers men’s soccer team’s season has come to a close, unable to emerge victorious in their clash against the University of Montreal Carabins

The team was well aware of the high stakes coming into this final regular-season game. The Laval Rouge et Or were playing at the same time, and both teams were eager for a win to cement themselves into the top 4 and clinch a playoff berth. 

While the Rouge et Or finally grasped a 2-0 win against the UQAM Citadins, the Stingers’ loss wiped out any chances of the team going further, as they needed at least a tie to secure their placement.

“I think it’s a microcosm of our season,” said Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton after the game. “We let a lot of games slip this season that we should have been able to take care of early on and not even put ourselves in this predicament.” 

Visibly upset with the turn of events, Sutton was still there to comfort the heartbroken and lamenting players on the sideline after the final whistle.

The matchup was of major difficulty for the Stingers, with the Carabins already being the reigning champions and sitting atop the division boasting an 8-1-2 record. Both their defence and offence are regarded as the best in the RSEQ, scoring 33 goals and conceding only 10. They also beat the Stingers earlier this season with a score of 4-0, and even knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last year.

The Montreal Carabins put on a stellar performance the whole game, able to count on midfielder Lucas Frutier who had his best game of the season, scoring all four of the Carabins’ goals and being named team MVP. They were also able to rely on their rock-solid defence, which didn’t allow a single goal in the first half and was overall very efficient in keeping the Stingers at bay.

However, nothing can be taken away from the Stingers’ perseverance and unwillingness to give up. Trailing by three goals going into halftime, they entered the second half ready to leave it all on the field and fight for their right to play for the championship. They came back looking determined after the break, with early back-to-back goal opportunities. In the 65th minute, Stingers’ midfielder Benoit Litty Mpako was finally able to kick the ball into the net, giving the team its first goal of the game.

The unfortunate reality remained that the opposing defence was by far the best in the league and was not ready to give up much of an edge. The Stingers’ laboured performance was, however, shown by the fact that this game was only the third time this season that the Carabins’ fortress-like defence allowed more than one goal. Stingers’ goalkeeper Jordy Kerlegrand also turned in a solid performance with eight spectacular saves, bringing his grand total this season to 53, the third most in the RSEQ this season.

When asked about how he kept his players in the running with such a deficit, Sutton explained: “We had to believe, we had to stay motivated. The guys were able to give themselves a bit of a lifeline when they scored but when we took the fourth goal, it was hard.”

The Stingers’ defence was indeed doing a much better job after halftime, but all seemed grim when Frutier was ultimately able to find the back of the net for the fourth time in the game. Concordia’s final point came 85 minutes in, when confusion led the Carabins to score an own goal, but unfortunately for the Stingers, it was too late to orchestrate a proper comeback.

With this game being the last of the regular season, senior players were called forward before kick-off and congratulated for their tenure with the soccer team. Stingers’ midfielder John Cevik left with the team MVP award for his last game as a Stinger.

“We’ve got to keep fighting; the program is going in the right direction and now we just need to get rid of these hurdles in the way. Hopefully, we build a culture in which we can keep doing that,” concluded Sutton, who is widely optimistic for the future of the men’s soccer team.

The first playoff games will take place on Oct. 28, with Laval facing Montreal and UQAM facing UQTR to determine who will face off in the finals for the championship.

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Is Erling Haaland human?

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s Erling Haaland!

We can only admire Erling Haaland’s unprecedented start to the Premier League campaign, as he is currently leading with 15 goals.

The Premier League has always been considered the toughest soccer league, with newcomers having to adjust to the high level of competition.

However, the Norwegian striker is crushing it like it’s child’s play in his very first year. He has already tallied 15 goals, including three hat-tricks in his first nine games. The record for the most goals scored by a player in a 38-game season was 32 goals by Mohamed Salah in 2017-18.

Haaland on the other hand, is on pace to score nearly 67 goals this season with an unreal rate of 1.79 goals per 90 minutes. The most impressive thing about this is that he has a chance to pulverize the record at only 22 years of age.

The soccer player’s success in the Premier League is not a random stroke of luck. Whether it was in Salzburg, Dortmund, or the Norwegian national team where he once scored nine goals in a single game at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, he has been dominating everywhere he plays. 

To put things further into perspective, at 22 years old Haaland has scored more goals than Messi and Ronaldo did when they were his age — combined.

The 6’4” and 191-pound striker has a very lethal skill set for his size. He plays a powerful game and is stronger, faster and bigger than the average centre-back.

He is insanely good at positioning himself on the field in order to be a threat, and reads the play well to make defenders uncomfortable — with or without the ball. Moreover, he is already becoming one of the world’s best finishers with his uncanny ability to finish with both feet and head.

Granted, it’s not hard to score when you play for Manchester City — a club that has players like Kevin De Bruyne or Bernardo Silva who can dish you the ball at the exact spot you want it to be. But even then, you still need to get it past the goalie, and Haaland is incredibly good at that.

He is in fact so good that a petition started to circulate online asking Haaland to be excluded from the Premier League, and it gathered more than two million signatures from fans.

People are genuinely wondering if he’s a robot and I don’t blame them. If you’d like to see the carnage unfold yourself, you should seriously start tuning in to his games as he’s solely decimating entire clubs and has all the talent in the world to shatter Salah’s 32-goal record this year.

After all, he is currently putting up numbers that have never been seen before in over 100 years of Premier League soccer.

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Sports

Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team defeats McGill Redbirds 2-1

Andrew Foote and a stunning defence help get the victory

The Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team fought a challenging game against the McGill Redbirds in which Concordia came out victorious 2-1 on Friday night.

The first half of the game showed a lot of determination from the Stinger’s offence. However, it wasn’t until the 33rd minute that forward Andrew Foote finally pierced through the defence of McGill goalie Ludovyck Ciociola, the current U Sports Athlete of the Week.

Only eight minutes later, Foote scored again, securing his second goal of the season. Both goals were assisted by defender Angus Legault.

Stingers’ forward Andrew Foote after a soccer game against the McGill Redbirds on Sept. 23, 2022. Maria Bouabdo/The Concordian

Nearing the end of the first half however, Redbirds’ midfielder Jake Gerenraich scored, with an assist by midfielder Reese Carlow, to help McGill get closer to a tie.

There were no goals in the second half, as McGill’s defence pushed back hard to try to tie the game. However, the Stingers’ still dominated on the field with 10 shots compared to McGill’s six.

“[Our offence] was successful because it was simple,” said Stingers’ midfielder Benoit Litty Mpako during a post-game interview. “We were just concentrating on getting control of the ball and moving it forward.”

Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton said they had been working hard after last week’s 3-2 loss against the UQTR Patriotes.

“We were able to bounce back and show a little bit of moxie from our guys,” Sutton added. “We knew obviously that this was going to be a challenging game as it always is against McGill with our rivalry. We’re all just very proud of our performance.”

Sutton also spoke about Foote’s performance. “We all know he can do a lot of great things for us and so full credit to the guy for being able to step up in a big moment. Honestly, it’s not a surprise, he’s been able to do that already in his short history with us,” he said.

“It was what the team needed, and it was a solid performance all around,” Foote said. “We came out here and everybody wanted it. That’s what I did and that’s what everyone else did.”

“It was a little bit scrappier than we wanted, but we’ve learned a lot of things, simple as that. It’s just another win and we want to win a lot more,” added defender and team captain Sean Homes before running off to his teammates for a post-game huddle.

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Thierry Henry: The living legend

Henry brings his talent on and off the field

Filling up trophy cabinets was common for former football player Thierry Henry. Unfortunately, Henry’s time as a head coach of CF Montreal did not reflect his career as a player, and had to come to a premature ending.

The all-time top goal scorer for France with 51 goals, he started his professional career in Monaco, where he spent five years. There, he won his first major trophy during the 1996–97 season, lifting up the Ligue 1 trophy and crowning Monaco as French champions.

Henry’s talents were not left unnoticed, and after an uneventful year playing for Italian giants Juventus for the 1998–99 season, he moved to London, where his career with Arsenal would engrave him forever in not only the history of the club, but also the sport.

While playing for Arsenal, Henry changed his play style and became a central offensive player rather than playing out on the left wing. This made a huge difference in Henry’s goal scoring record, where his mentality of quickly controlling the ball and shooting on net became evident and ruthless.

Henry played for Arsenal from 1999–2007, and saw his club lift the Premier League Cup twice. During the 2003–04 season, the London-based club won the Premier League without losing a single game, earning them the title of ‘The Invincibles’ and lifting up a golden trophy; the only team in the history of the Premier League to ever do so.

Henry’s time with Arsenal came to an end in 2007, as he joined famous Catalonian club F.C. Barcelona — the club he had lost to in the Champions League Final in 2006.

Henry’s time with Barcelona surpassed expectations. The striker became champion of Spain in his second year there, and created history once again as Barcelona won six trophies in a calendar year: the Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the most famous Champions League. Henry’s influential career with Barcelona came to an end in 2010, when he shockingly joined Major League Soccer (MLS) team the New York Red Bulls.

His player career in the MLS was different from his European past. Henry became a role model for all his teammates, and his influence was greater than ever, a source of discipline, confidence and rigour. Winning only the Supporters’ Shield with the Red Bulls in the 2012–13 season for having the best record in the league, Henry retired in 2014 and meddled in a managerial career soon after.

He became the head coach of CF Montreal in 2019, but unfortunately left his coaching duties this February 2021. During his time in Montreal, the Frenchman continued to elevate the standards of his team, leading CF Montreal to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but was eliminated by the New England Revolution. Henry’s record for the Montreal-based club is nine wins, 16 losses and four draws for both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons. Although these statistics may not seem impressive, Henry’s goal was to build the team from the ground up; a plan which demands time and effort.

Henry had to leave his position last month for family reasons, but his coaching career is nowhere near finished. The Frenchman’s departure has made clubs such as AFC Bournemouth from the England second tier division keen on signing the legend into their coaching spot, whenever he’s ready.

 

Graphic by Sarah Alouani

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