soccer football

Elton John and George Best

Soccer is bigger than the 90+ minutes on the pitch

This column will get you excited about the beautiful game while trying to navigate WTF is going on with the planet.

FOOTY, FOOTBALL, SOCCER or FUTBAL — no matter how you say it, the sport, and the culture around it, is very much alive in Montreal.

Montreal soccer football

Well, it’s been a few months.

While everybody has been in detention and trying to figure out what the next moves will be, the grand world of football has gone through a few ups and downs while still maintaining excitement.

I didn’t think I was going to miss football as much as I did, but I was thrilled to see it return.

Football resumed with matches in empty stadiums. Rising to the top-tier of the football universe was the amazing story of Alphonso Davies winning a championship in Germany. Davies was crowned the top Canadian men’s national player and named the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year for the 2019–20 season.

In France, PSG were quickly crowned French League champs — almost too quickly — but the honest truth is they were slated to take the title.

In the U.K., the English Premier League returned right at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement and integrated that social message into its initial matches. Here’s hoping that the social message continues to be pushed as a top line agenda of the league for the next 50 years and doesn’t get lost in the “next” social issue!

Sadly, racism and football have always been linked but 2020 could be the time where things start to push the needle towards a more open-minded ecosystem and an environment with zero tolerance.

Liverpool became champions of England after a 30-year wait. Bravo to the Reds for doing it with class during this mess, while being helmed by a very cool, well-groomed, smiley-faced man who is considered to be one of the greatest football managers of all time: Mr. Jürgen Klopp.

Champions League is about to be played in a mini-tournament in August, which will be exciting for the football-heads out there and will keep the football addiction well satiated.

The Euros that were supposed to be played in June got cancelled and pushed over to 2021, like many other major events including the Olympics.

The MLS returned with the MLS Is Back tournament which will award the winner some money, some bragging rights and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League after the final on Aug.11. All the teams that could participate in the tournament (that didn’t drop out due to having too many players testing positive for COVID-19) moved into Disney World in sunny Orlando Florida. Mickey’s backyard is a COVID-free fortress!

At Disney World, nobody is supposed to be able to go in or out of designated areas, even though the theme park is back open to paying guests. Don’t tell me players are not sneaking out to take a ride on Space Mountain.

The NBA restarted in the same place on July 30. Everyone will have fun, “Living in the Bubble.”

Soccer star Thierry Henry, as everybody knows, is the new coach to the Montreal Impact and so far he’s not having a great time, record-wise. Let’s be honest, though: this is no regular season and I for one look forward to seeing what he’ll be able to do with the team next year as a proper litmus test of his coaching ability. 

I will say that having the beautiful game gone for as long as we did helped me and others realize how much we love the game and that all the little things that bothered us about the game before no longer bore any weight. Bring on VAR any day of the week!

There is just still so much yet to be seen on how things roll out. Our city has only slowly started to come back to life: parks reopening, soccer camps restarting and people being able to play in groups of more than 4, 6 or 10 people at a time to enjoy what it means to play sports.

It’s going to be interesting for the next little while but with a positive mindset and with the beautiful game always throwing us mouth-watering storylines, corruption scandals, mega deals, clubs being bought and sold like trading cards, games played in empty stadiums, social justice and the coming from nothing to greatness stories and so on… I for one can’t wait to watch it all unfold!

Elton John soccer football

“I don’t believe skill was, or ever will be, the result of coaches. It is a result of a love affair between the child and the ball.”

—Roy Maurice Keane

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