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CF Montreal makes rebranded debut as MLS season kicks off this weekend

PLUS a soccer scandal in Barcelona, Seattle Sounders rock a trippy kit, Ronaldo joins the 700 club & more!

Well, football never sleeps and this last month proves just that!

The start of March saw some crazy stuff go down in Spain. Police executed a search and seize operation a week before FC Barcelona was about to have an election for its new president. This has the makings of a movie-of-the week. Those arrested in this event were: former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, current chief executive Oscar Grau, director of legal services Gomez Ponti and advisor to the president Jaume Masferrer.

New FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta

The operation is in connection with last year’s “Barcagate,” in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and Bartomeu. Barca elected Joan Laporta that week as its 42nd president.

Wilfried Nancy, the new head coach for CF Montreal

Speaking of new starts, CF Montreal has chosen a new coach to lead them into and through this bound-to-be-weird, wacky and wonderful COVID-19-restricted season. Forty-three-year-old Toulon, France native Wilfried Nancy is the club’s eighth coach since they entered the MLS in 2012. He has been with the club as a coach for the academy since 2011. He joined the first team as assistant coach in 2016, making him qualified to lead the charge. CF Montreal announced its March schedule before leaving for pre-season in FLA. All the info can be found on the team’s website. Kick-off is April 17 against, you guessed it, TFC.

Jimi Hendrix-inspired secondary kit for the Seattle Sounders FC

More to do in the MLS: In March, Seattle Sounders FC unveiled its new secondary kit for this season. It’s an original design full of purple, orange and yellow mixed together in a psychedelic pattern that pays tribute to Seattle native, music legend and world renowned cultural icon Mr. Jimi Hendrix. Trippy, man, trippy! Seattle says, “The project is to recognize and celebrate the meaningful principles of peace, love and giving for which Hendrix stood.” The design is part of the MLS and Adidas “Community Kit” line. MLS explains that, “This project was created this year to introduce to clubs the opportunity to create secondary kits rooted in individual meaning for each team.”

Cristiano Ronaldo joins the 700+ club

In March we all witnessed Mr. Abs himself, Cristiano Ronaldo, score his 700th career goal. CR7 has become (just) the sixth footballer to have scored that many times in history, joining the exclusive club of legends Josef Bican, Romario, Pelé, Ferenc Puskás and Gerd Müller. CR7 has scored more career goals than any other active player in professional football and has moved past his football nemesis Lionel Messi. Of more importance, he has also passed the (arguably) All-time Great Pelé’s record!

Speaking of the Brazilian King, I just finished one of the better docs on the man who won three World Cup titles. Streaming on Netflix at the moment is the documentary Pelé, which was made this year. The film focuses on a 12-year period of which you see and follow his transition from Superstar to National Hero. The political stream this footballer had to navigate was more captivating than his play on any pitch. What I learned truly altered my perception of the icon.

European football is in full bloom with ManCity still on top of the pile. The English Premier League season looks to be done and dusted in theory, but not yet mathematically. 

Manchester City

April brings the next round of football giants battling to the death in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Manchester City, Dortmund, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Porto, Chelsea, Bayern (Canadian connection) and PSG will all duel to be named Champions of Europe.

Rangers FC won their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years in March with Steven George Gerrard at the helm. Everyone still believes that he is a manager-in-training to one day make his move into the EPL and take the reins of his life-long club Liverpool once Klopp leaves. ■

“I learned all about life with a ball at my feet.” —Ronaldinho

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

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