Sports

Beautiful Game: Canadian women headed for Rio

By Phil Cottrell, Daily Observer

Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica during the first half of a CONCACAF Olympic women's soccer qualifying championship semifinal Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica during the first half of a CONCACAF Olympic women's soccer qualifying championship semifinal Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Two amazing goals from Christine Sinclair ensured that the Canadian Women’s national team is Olympic bound after a 3-1 semifinal win over Costa Rica. Her second goal was as good as anything you will see in any soccer league, men or women's’ anywhere in the world. With her back to the net, Sinclair controlled and then juggled the ball into the air with her right foot. A quick swivel and she connected with her left foot, sending the ball sailing into the top of the net.

Our women will now look to at least defend the bronze medal the team earned in London four years ago. This summer's Rio 2016 Women's Olympic Football Tournament will again feature 12 nations. The 32-match final competition runs from Aug. 3 to 20 at seven stadiums in six cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo.

Nations that have qualified so far include Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, United States and Canada. The official draw for all 12 finalists will take place on April 14, 2016.

In the final match of the tournament, Canada faced rivals USA for little more than bragging rights, given both teams had secured their spots in Rio earlier in the tournament. But like any match between our two nations, the stakes were high for both teams as they sought to claim supremacy in the region. Canada finally finished in second place after a 2-0 loss to the host USA. There were some questions asked as to the attacking capabilities of the Canadian team against a really good opponent as well as some goal keeping issues.

A new Head of FIFA

Gianni Infantino has succeeded Sepp Blatter as president of the world football's governing body FIFA. Infantino polled 115 votes, 27 more than closest rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

Blatter, who had led FIFA since 1998, stood down last year and was later suspended from football for six years for breaching ethics guidelines.

Infantino is a 45-year-old lawyer from Switzerland. He entered the presidential race when it became clear that Michel Platini, boss of European football's governing body UEFA, could not stand for election.

An emotional Infantino told delegates that together they would "restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA,” and added "I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of FIFA where we can again put football at the centre of the stage. FIFA has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and implement good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect.”

"We're going to win back this respect through hard work, commitment and we're going to make sure we can finally focus on this wonderful game."

So far Infantino has been well received and we will wait and see what kind of badly needed reforms he will introduce, and if he can restore a badly tarnished image.

Preseason wins for Ottawa Fury FC

Ottawa Fury FC won 2-1 over Toronto FC2 in a pre-season match. Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) created a development side, Toronto FC2 in the United Soccer League to act as the top level in its development system.

And this week, Ottawa Fury FC scored an impressive 3-0 victory in Arizona over fellow North American Soccer League (NASL) club Indy Eleven thanks to a second-half offensive surge with goals coming from Paulo Junior, new signing Pablo Dyego and Gerardo Bruna who converted from the penalty spot for the second straight match. Ottawa defensive game again looked solid. So far there have been some promising performances in preseason activities.

Opening matches for Fury FC

Ottawa Fury FC open its North American Soccer League (NASL) season away from home against the New York Cosmos on April 3 in New York. This will be very much a repeat of last year’s Soccer Bowl Final which saw the Cosmos win 3-2 over the Fury. We shall see what has been assembled in terms of the new players. It does appear that Ottawa has obtained some pretty good new players from the transfer fees that were obtained for the departure of players from last year who were still on contract with Fury FC. There is a lot of interest particularly in Gerardo Bruna. An attacking midfielder, Bruna spent five years in the youth setup at Real Madrid from 2002 to 2007. At the time, Bruna was considered hugely promising and even called "the Messi of Madrid”!

The awaited home opener is on April 30 against the new expansion club Miami FC.

Fury supporters groups

Every supporter wears a scarf. A symbol of their allegiance. For members of the Bytown Boys and Stony Monday Riot those scarves symbolize their commitment to their supporters' group and their unbridled passion for Ottawa Fury FC.

You can hear them every game, through the ups and downs, and with every game the noise grows. They act as the 12th man. The boos when the ref gives a decision against a Fury player to the smoke bombs that go off when Fury FC scores is great encouragement for the players and great fun for the crowd. It is quite the atmosphere coming from section W at TD Place. So whether you are new to pro soccer, new to TD Place, or new to Ottawa and if standing, cheering, clapping, drumming, chanting is what you're looking for . . . look no further than Section W.

If you wish to become a member of the Bytown Boys (women welcome too), or the Stony Monday Riot here is the contact information:

BYTOWN BOYS SUPPORTERS CLUB

Website: http://www.bytownboys.ca/

Twitter: @BytownBoysSC

Facebook: Bytown Boys SC

STONY MONDAY RIOT

Website: http://www.stonymondayriot.com/

Twitter: @StonyMondayRiot

Facebook: Stony Monday Riot

 

FIFA’s commitment to women

Sports and tennis icon Billie Jean King is among the list of high-profile speakers confirmed for the second edition of the FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference, which will take place at the Home of FIFA on Monday, March 7. Entitled “Equality Through Reform”, the conference will bring together diverse voices from sport and wider society to discuss ways in which women’s football and women in football can be further promoted.

The conference, which coincides with the annual celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8) as an annual event and a focal point for women in sport and leadership, is part of FIFA’s commitment to promote, develop and invest in women’s football so that the sport and those who play it can hopefully grow to their full potential across the world.

Not a smart move

FC Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Dmitri Tarasov has tested already strained relations between Russia and Turkey after removing his shirt at the end the match against Turkish Club Fenerbahce to reveal a picture of Vladimir Putin.

Hurray! Chalk one up for the fans…finally

Liverpool FC's owners have scrapped their controversial £77 pounds sterling ticket and apologized for the "distress caused" by the recent pricing announcement.

Thousands of fans left at the symbolic 77-minute mark into a recent match with Sunderland at Anfield, Liverpool’s home field, in protest at the planned top-price £77 pounds ticket in the new main stand. In reversing their decision, club owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) told disgruntled fans "Message received.” Liverpool's most expensive match-day ticket will now stay at £59 pounds sterling. The highest season-ticket price is also frozen.

Liverpool's principal owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon issued an open letter detailing the changes….

"The three of us have been particularly troubled by the perception that we don't care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club's expense," it said. "Quite the opposite is true."

The club has also ended game categorization – meaning fans will pay the same price for match-day tickets regardless of the opposition.

What a great victory for the fans and a real shot in the arm to keeping the sport one for the people and not for primarily the elites and also Corporate suits.

Why doesn’t that happen more often over here? Have we been trained to accept a top priced $150 ticket for a hockey game as that is just the way it is? Liverpool fans didn’t think so. One of the reasons is perhaps that hockey, football and baseball don’t have the equivalent of the supporters groups that exist here in soccer such as, The Southsiders of Vancouver Whitecaps, the Red Patch boys of Toronto FC, the Ultras of the Montreal Impact or even Ottawa FC’s Bytown Boys and Stony Monday riot. These groups are the club's most ardent and vocal supporters and can really impact through social media or newsletters. All we have here it seems are market forces. And eventually we are the poorer for it. I sometimes feel that we are so blindly manipulated by our major Sports Leagues and a sycophantic media that surrounds and shamelessly promotes them.

Remember, whatever your sport, to win the game is great, to play the game is greater, but to love the game is the greatest of all. And the greatest game is played by more than 250 million players in 200 countries. So, be part of the soccer fan base worldwide, 3.5 billion and counting! Also, remember . . . support local soccer! If you have any comments on the beautiful game please contact me at cottrell@nrtco.net, or call 613-587-4856.