World Cup 2022: Canadian football in full learning

Little known to the general public, Canadian football nevertheless climbs the ranks from year to year. “With three Canadian teams present in Major League Soccer (the main professional soccer league in North America, editor’s note)we feel that the development of football is booming,” exults Jean-François Téotonio, sports journalist at the French-language daily The Press. It is driven by this positive momentum that the Canadian national team is preparing to start the second World Cup in its history, against Belgium, Wednesday November 23 at 8 p.m.

“The soccer academy has invested, and now we have a pool of interesting young players, book Jean-François Téotonio. At CF Montreal (Canadian elite club, Editor’s note)for example,they hired a sporting director who wanted to completely rethink the club’s philosophy. As a result, it’s a safe bet that we will soon have quite interesting new generations. »

A lack of “football culture”

“If the king sport remains hockeythe number of young football graduates today is higher in our country”, explains for his part Marc Cassivi, journalist and author of My world cups (1). And for good reason, hockey requires significant equipment and financial means where football remains accessible to all.

“Investments have multiplied in recent years. The gymnasiums where young people played football in the winter have given way to football stadiums with synthetic turf,” continues the enthusiast. But the latter points to a paradox: “When I go to the stadium, I see an incredible excitement, but I always come across someone explaining the rules to their neighbour. We lack what is called “football culture”. »

Alphonso Davies, left piston of Bayern Munich, Jonathan David at the forefront of the Lille attack or Atiba Hutchinson, defensive midfielder of Besiktas (one of the great teams of Istanbul), are all names that have recently shone in Europe, giving a spotlight on the Canadian breeding ground. “It contributes to growth, that’s obvious”, believes Jean-François Téotonio. “Before, our rare players who played in Europe were substitutes or luxury supports. Now there are also superstars,” abounds Marc Cassivi.

A test before 2026

What ambition for the competition in Qatar? We will call it reasonable. “With a group made up of Morocco, Belgium and Croatia, you have to be realistic: if we go to eighth, it’s a semi-miracle, having fun Jean-François Téotonio. SIf we put even one goal, it would already be great! »

But the goal goes beyond 2022. In four years, Canada will be one of the host countries, along with the United States and Mexico. “We go to Qatar to learn, observe, acquire the science of football that we lack”, explains Marc Cassivi. During an interview for the newspaper The PressCanada’s coach, Britain’s John Herdman, recalled his mission: “Be ready in 2026.”

If the development of men’s football has been visible in recent years, there is still room for improvement. In Qatar, she will be the only selection not to have a new jersey. “A lack of anticipation from the federation”, argues Jean-François Téotonio.

First emulations, first controversies

Four years is also the time left to settle a financial dispute which is hampering the good development of football. The Canadian federation (Canada Soccer) and its national men’s team were cold in June 2022 due to compensation and transparency issues. Dissatisfied with the salary conditions offered, the internationals then opted for a strike.

They were asking for fair terms with the women’s national team in terms of game-related revenue or percentage of winnings at World Cups. “The relationship has been strained for years. Canada Soccer disrespects our team and undermines our efforts to raise standards and advance soccer in Canada,” the players had thus declared, last June, in a press release.

In a country where football has long been worn by women, the men’s selection is meeting with increasingly popular success, at the same time as it experiences its first areas of turbulence. Undoubtedly proof of a mutation in progress.


Canada-Belgium, a very unbalanced opposition

In business since 1912Canada’s team ranks 41st in the FIFA rankings. His opponent of the day, Belgium, semi-finalist of the Russian World Cup in 2018, ranks 2nd.

The Canadian “Canucks” have only encountered the Red Devils once. In 1989, Belgium won this friendly match (2-0).

It is only the second participation of Canada at a World Cup, after that of 1986. In Mexico, Canada had been eliminated in the first round, without garnering points in the group stage. The country had notably met France and lost (1-0).



Champions League: Chelsea and Tuchel sacred, hard learning for Manchester City

The “Blues” in jubilation. Chelsea won their second Champions League, beating favorite Manchester City (1-0) in the final thanks to Kai Havertz (42e), Saturday in Porto, a symbolic title for his trainer Thomas Tuchel, licensed from Paris SG at Christmas.

The German technician and the London club have lived together the upheavals of a unique season, turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic. Seventh in the Premier League when Swabia arrived in mid-January, Chelsea players had a season of ups and downs, which made them the underdogs against the recent champion of England.

But in a singular year, a surprise winner: the “Sky Blues”, put into orbit by the colossal investments of their rich Emirati owner, will have to wait before registering their name on the charts.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: Lille champion of France, a title on quicksand

Like Tottenham in 2019 and PSG in 2020, they lost their first C1 final, proof that the flagship competition does not allow itself to be seduced by newcomers, as attractive as they are.

“For a first final, we played a very good match, we showed courage. We will learn “, analyzed their coach Pep Guardiola, crowned twice on the Barça bench.

While he tried a tactical blow by starting Raheem Sterling in place of Fernandinho, Guardiola could not find the key against Tuchel, who beats him for the third time in a month and a half (after the Cup and the Championship ).

The German, like Chelsea, experienced a painful apprenticeship in the finals, with the one lost last August in Lisbon against Bayern (1-0) with PSG, who sacked him four months later, against a backdrop of disagreement on the proposed game.

N’Golo Kanté, the man of the match

In London, his players went to the end of his idea, with solidarity in defense and a constant commitment. “It’s a strong group, an ambitious club that suits me perfectly”, remarked Tuchel, who greeted the “Collective performance”.

One man nevertheless stood out: N’Golo Kanté. The French international made a match in his image, being tireless when it came to pressing, and impactful when he had the ball. His teammate with the Blues, Olivier Giroud, remained on the bench all match.

The presence of 14,110 spectators at the Dragon stadium gave life to this final, also English in the commitment made by the two teams. So noisy “Thiago Silva” accompanied the outing (39e) of the Brazilian defender, hit in the thigh, who had difficulty in hiding his depression.

But, in this theater that came back to life thanks to the fans, the sequences were linked, and with tears succeeded the joy, when Havertz opened the scoring three minutes later.

After a last strike from Mahrez (90e+7), Chelsea fans let their joy explode. At the same time, the announcer urging them to keep their masks and to remain seated in their seats. The last image of a season like no other.



Closing swimming pools undermines learning to swim

The professionals of the sports halls mobilize regularly, these last months, to express their distress vis-a-vis the closing of their structures, and their fears as regards public health whereas a sedentary lifestyle does not bode well for the physical state and psychological effects of the French. Professionals from another sector are now leaving their reserve, alerting to the risks generated by the curtain drawn on their establishments: swimming pools.

→ INVESTIGATION. The enthusiasm for home sports quickly ran out of steam

Beyond the two confinements and then the restrictions imposed, the swimming pools have been indeed closed to the general public since January 15. “A whole generation of kids no longer has access to school practice, where we learn to swim. Not only them, but also all college students who already know how to swim but need to practice so as not to lose their skills. The coming summer can already be classified as high risk ”, warns Axel Lamotte Deputy Secretary General of the National Professional Union of Lifeguards (SNPMNS).

Risks for an entire age group

For years, the summer reports on the drowning front have not been good. All the professionals fear the worst for the months to come, with 800,000 children who have not been able to benefit from the usual school training. The SNPMNS sounded the alarm at the end of February in a letter addressed to the Minister of Sports. No answer for the moment.

“For two years, we have been practicing mass internships in Seine-Saint-Denis where nearly one in two young people cannot swim when they arrive at college, continues Axel Lamotte. These young people have become familiar with the water, but without regularity. These efforts are in vain. They have learned not to fear the element, but still do not master it. Suddenly, emboldened, they risk even more this summer. The swimming pools must be reopened urgently, at least for school children. “ The demand is the same on the side of Snep-FSU, the main union of sports teachers.

The French Swimming Federation (FFN) is on the same line. “We have challenged the ministry three times for a reopening, and with arguments, assures Patrick Pérez, deputy treasurer and marketing and communication manager of the FFN. First, the chlorine is very virucidal, then the protocols can be very strict as shown by the fact that no cluster was to be deplored in the opening phases. The swimming pools are not to be stored with the other covered sports equipment. To deprive yourself of this public health tool, at a time when obesity is on the rise and drowning has been a huge problem for years, is a major mistake. “

A program of removable basins

The FFN also points to future sporting difficulties, even if the high level can continue to train. “For our athletes who are preparing for Tokyo, no worries, of course, continues Patrick Pérez. On the other hand, we undermine certain specialties such as artistic swimming where all swimmers are not necessarily on the radars for Paris 2024. And beyond the high level, it is cataclysmic for the whole discipline: we risk to have a whole generation which, for lack of swimming pools, is not going to persevere and can switch to other sports. “

To respond to the emergency, the Minister Delegate, Roxana Maracineanu, mentioned in the daily The Parisian the launch of a deployment plan for “Learning pools of 4 meters by 8 in schools and gymnasiums, in agreement with the rectorates”. The ministry has a budget of 15 million euros for this program, and expects the installation of around 800 basins. Roxana Maracineanu also intends to connect lifeguards and owners of private swimming pools (3 million in France) for this summer to provide lessons.

Two projects that make Axel Lamotte jump: “Gym floors are not suitable, and why spend money there rather than reopening the existing pools?” As for private pools, there should be guarantees on the quality of the water in particular. It all seems very complicated to me. “


Disturbing figures

In 2018, the survey carried out every three years by Public Health France revealed a 30% increase in drownings compared to 2015. The figure then struck the former world swimming champion Roxana Maracineanu, newly appointed Minister of Sports. Hence the launch of the “aquatic ease” plan in April 2019, intended to facilitate familiarization with water from an early age. A program very disturbed for a year by the Covid-19. Last summer, between the 1er June and end of August, the consequences of the pandemic, in particular the limitations of access to the beaches and the closing of the swimming pools until June 20, made it possible to note a decrease of 12% of the visits to the emergencies for drowning compared to the two years previous ones. But during the peak in frequentation of aquatic spaces, in August, the figure increased by 5% compared to 2018 and 2019, and even by 22% over the heatwave period between August 6 and August 13.