What You Might have Missed This Year In the World of Soccer
This past year has certainly been another whirlwind of a year in the soccer world. As huge fans of soccer ourselves, we’ve kept a close eye on the sport, and not just when it’s being played inside one of our soccer bubbles. If you’ve been outside of the soccer news for 2016, here are some of the top news stories.
Blind Soccer Gains Traction in Ontario
At the beginning of 2016, a second-year global studies student—Hillary Scanlon—at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, was diagnosed with Nystagmus. This is a rare condition involving rapid and involuntary eye movements, affecting the sufferer’s vision. The first thing on Scanlon’s mind? How she was going to continue to play soccer.
Luckily for Scanlon, 2016 brought new traction to blind soccer in Ontario. Until quite recently, in fact, blind soccer did not really exist in Ontario, though Canada participated in all others sports at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
The Ontario Soccer Association has been working in partnership with the Ontario Blind Sport Association to develop an environment for soccer for the visually impaired. At present, they have been able to deliver on this to approximately 300 participants in Windsor, Sudbury, Ottawa, Scarborough, Whitby, and even in Kitchener with the Kitchener Soccer Club, where Hillary Scanlon is now playing. She will be on Ontario’s very first blind soccer team, with the ultimate hope of playing in the Paralympics.
Brazilian Soccer Tragically Lost in Fatal Plane Crash
At the end of November, Brazil experienced a devastating tragedy when the plane carrying the Chapecoense soccer team crashed south of Medellin in Colombia. They were on their way to the first portion of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
Since the tragedy, which killed 71 people leaving only 6 alive—including 3 members of the soccer team—the Chapecoense team was awarded the Copa Sudamericana championship trophy just a week after the crash, with sports values in mind.
One of the players who survived, Alan Ruschel, is on the road to recovery. He took his first steps since the crash at the Somer Clinic in Colombia, and will be returning to Brazil as soon as he is able.
Players’ Association for Women’s Soccer in Canada
Some members of Canada’s national women’s soccer team voted at the beginning of December to form a players’ association. This will be a first for the sport within Canada. The ultimate purpose of this players’ association is to protect as well as promote the rights of female players in Canada. It will work by addressing conversations about compensation and playing conditions, among other issues.
In a statement, the Team Canada captain, Christine Sinclair, said that the creation of this players’ association is “the culmination of years of work by the nucleus of the current team” who have been seeking to create a better system to protect the rights of female soccer players in Canada.
UEFA Euro 2016
This year, France was the host of the 15th UEFA European Championship. The final was a face-off between France’s team—two-time winners of the championship—and Portugal. Portugal came out on top with a score of 1-0. Another notable event during the championship was the awarding of the UEFA Euro 2016 Player of the Tournament. The award went to France’s forward, Antoine Griezmann, just ahead of France’s European qualifier against Bulgaria.
This year saw its share of ups and downs in the world of soccer, but hopefully 2017 will be a strong one for the sport. While the World Cup is still another year away, many qualifying matches will be taking place over 2017. So keep an eye out for your favourite teams and players, and don’t forget to enjoy the game yourself in one of our many soccer air domes.