Ryan Reynolds is the latest celebrity to buy a soccer team

PLUS two blows for the sport in Montreal, UEFA Euro news and more!

Two coaches gone in February! I thought January was something. Well, February had it all as well.

Thierry Daniel Henry spent 15 months with Montreal, had a 8-13-2 record and got CFM to their first playoff appearance since the 2016 season. On Feb 25 at 10:56 a.m., Henry wrote that he had to leave the club he joined so recently, for personal reasons. He wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that I’m writing this message. The last year has been an extremely difficult one for me personally. Due to the worldwide pandemic, I was unable to see my children. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing restrictions and the fact that we will have to relocate to the U.S. again for several months (at least) will be no different. The separation is too big of a strain for me and my kids. Therefore, it is with much sadness that I must take the decision to return to London and leave CF Montréal.”

Coach Thierry Henry announces his departure from CF Montreal

CFM started training camp for the 2021 season here in Montreal on March 1, to be ready for the season start mid-April.

Another blow to football this past month had the province coming out with a statement that Montreal is pulling out of World Cup 2026. Quebec Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx explained in an email: “We understand that the decision not to support the hosting of FIFA World Cup matches in 2026 may disappoint the city of Montreal and soccer fans. We would have been happy and ready to support the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Montreal, but the apprehended cost explosion of the event was becoming difficult for us to justify to Quebec taxpayers.” 

According to Proulx, in less than three years the estimated costs for the Quebec government have more than doubled, from $50-million to $103-million. However, like all football matches, it’s not over until the final whistle blows. There is a chance that the government stance and the plans to support Montreal matches will change.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney acquire Wrexham AFC

Hollywood continues its love affair with football, with the latest stars to get involved with a club being Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). The pair were approved to become investors in fifth tire club Wrexham AFC. The Welsh team was formed in 1864 — it’s the third oldest professional football team in the world — and has never played in the top-flight of English football, but the club has previously reached the FA Cup quarterfinals and famously beat Arsenal FC in the third round in 1992. Nobody got in the way of this deal and Wrexham supporters are reportedly ecstatic. The new owners will immediately invest $2.5-million to get the ball rolling.

UEFA Euro 2020 partners with TikTok in 2021

Speaking of Europe, mobile app TikTok has been announced as a global sponsor of UEFA EURO 2020. The tournament was supposed to happen last summer but has been pushed to this summer starting June 11, 2021. This is the first time a digital entertainment platform has sponsored a major international tournament for UEFA.

As a global sponsor, TikTok will work with UEFA to launch a range of exciting features like AR Effects, Hashtag Challenges, TikTok LIVEs and Sounds. UEFA will also give TikTok access to its huge library of historical content to create new, more modern and relevant consumable product(s). UEFA EURO 2020 will launch an official TikTok account just before the tournament kicks off.

Rich Waterworth, TikTko’s U.K./EU general manager, said: “TikTok is fast becoming a place where people can enjoy a new type of experience for the beautiful game, as more and more football organizations, teams and players jump on our platform to engage directly with fans. We’re delighted to be partnering with UEFA EURO 2020, one of the world’s biggest sporting events, bringing the spirit and passion of this tournament to its fans on TikTok. Our community loves to celebrate sport in creative ways, and I can’t wait to see how they engage with all the unmissable content we expect for UEFA EURO 2020.”

Not bad for supposedly a quiet month.

Can’t wait to see what April brings us! ■

“We must have had 99% of the game. It was the other 3% that cost us the match.”

Ruud Gullit

This column originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Cult MTL. Check out The 1st Half podcast (about soccer and football culture in Montreal and beyond) here.

For more Montreal soccer and other sports coverage, visit our Sports section.