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Akinola, Davies headline Canada's 23-player roster for CONCACAF Gold Cup – TSN



At just 20-years old, Alphonso Davies is already a CONCACAF Gold Cup veteran.

The star Bayern Munich left back highlights a group of 12 returning players on Canada’s 23-man roster for the championship for teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean, which kicks off July 10.

It will be the third Gold Cup appearance for Davies, who has already made a name for himself at the tournament. He won the Golden Boot as top scorer (with three goals) and was named the best young player at the 2017 edition.

Davies’ inclusion underlines his commitment to the Canadian cause, as he will miss the beginning of Bayern’s training camp to compete at the Gold Cup.

He and his teammates will also get valuable top-tier matches in heading into the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, which head coach John Herdman said is key for a team lacking game experience.

“We’ve only had six matches in two years as a group, and a lot of those games haven’t been against top CONCACAF opposition,” Herdman said Thursday after the team was announced. “So for me to bring a group of players together that can gain those experiences and continue in this mentality and keep building on the foundation of those last six games, that’s really my goal for this tournament.”

While Canada will be able to count on Davies’ pace and energy at the Gold Cup, it will be missing the scoring punch of another of its European-based stars.

Jonathan David, a standout forward for French champion Lille, is being given the Gold Cup off to rest for the upcoming Ligue 1 season, as well as the final round of World Cup qualifying. David was the Golden Boot at the 2019 Gold Cup with six goals.

Herdman said the 21-year-old David was dealing with a groin injury and was on anti-inflammatory medication during Canada’s matches in the second stage of World Cup qualifying. He said the striker should be back when Canada enters stage three of qualifying in September.

“It’s still not where he wants it to be, and given he’s got a massive year ahead, looking to retain the championship and going into Champions League, obviously qualifying Canada for the World Cup, sort of made that decision for him to take a step back and push through the recovery,” Herdman said.

David’s 15 goals in 16 games with the senior men’s side will be difficult to replace. However, Cyle Larin, who has 15 goals in 37 national team appearances and is coming off a 24-goal season with Turkish champion Besiktas, is among the 12 players with Gold Cup experience on the roster.

The 11 players making their Gold Cup debut for Canada includes Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola, whose inclusion on the squad comes one day after he formally changed his international affiliation to Canada from the United States.

The 20-year-old Akinola was born in Detroit but moved to Canada when he was one. He made his debut for the U.S. senior side in December, scoring in a 6-0 win over El Salvador, but was not cap-tied since the match was a friendly.

Akinola turned heads at the MLS is Back Tournament last year with five goals in his first two games. He finished the 2020 season with nine goals in 15 games.

“I’m really looking forward to working with him,” Herdman said. “I’ve built a relationship with him over the last two years off the field, spent some time with him in camp just recently, and you know he’s got talent. We’ve seen that.

“That MLS is Back tournament, and where he was last year, really showed that he was one of the top strikers in MLS.”

Midfielders Scott Arfield and Atiba Hutchinson and goalkeeper Milan Borjan were also omitted from Canada’s roster.

Arfield, who plays for Rangers in Scotland, and Hutchinson, a veteran of 85 caps who is a teammate of Larin on Besiktas, have both served as captain for Canada. Both were on the preliminary 60-man roster.

Herdman said players who chose not to play at the Gold Cup did not make the decision easily.

“To a man, every man wanted to be part of this Gold Cup, which speaks volumes for where this country’s at the moment,” Herdman said.

Toronto FC fullback Kemar Lawrence, a member of Jamaica’s Gold Cup team, says he is impressed by the Canadian roster.

“It’s a really talented bunch of guys,” he told reporters Thursday. “A really good team. Good coaching. I’m looking for them to be in the semifinals, at least, to be honest. Maybe that’s me rating them high but I see them playing some good football and I’m just looking for them to be in the semifinals … I don’t see them not making it that far.

“Maybe if they meet us,” he added with a simile.

Canada, ranked 70th in the world, opens Gold Cup Group B play against unranked Martinique on July 10 before facing a preliminary-round survivor on July 15 and the 20th-ranked Americans on July 18. All three matches will be in Kansas City.

Canada reached the tournament quarterfinals in 2019 before blowing a 2-0 lead and losing 3-2 to Haiti.

TFC fullback/wingback Richie Laryea and midfielder Jonathan Osorio are part of the Canadian squad along with Akinola.

Fourteen of Canada’s 23 players have 10 or fewer senior caps. Akinola, Houston Dynamo forward Tyler Pasher and midfielder Harry Paton of Scotland’s Ross County have yet to win a cap.

Canada — Ayo Akinola, Toronto FC (MLS); Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS); Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Theo Corbeanu, Wolverhampton Wanderers (England); Maxime Crepeau, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany); Stephen Eustaquio, FC Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal); Liam Fraser, Columbus Crew (MLS); Doneil Henry, Suwon Samsung Bluewings (South Korea); Junior Hoilett, unattached; Alistair Johnston, Nashville SC (MLS); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Scott Kennedy, SSV Jahn Regensburg (Germany); Cyle Larin, Besiktas (Turkey); Richie Laryea, Toronto FC (MLS); Jayson Leutwiler, Huddersfield Town (England); Kamal Miller, CF Montreal (MLS); Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC (MLS); Tyler Pasher, Houston Dynamo (MLS); Harry Paton, Ross County (Scotland); Samuel Piette, CF Montreal (MLS); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United (MLS); Steven Vitoria, Moreirense (Portugal).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2021.

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Rugby Canada fires coach over social media posts ridiculing the women sevens Olympic team – The Globe and Mail



Jamie Cudmore, captain of Canada’s national rugby team, is pictured during practice at UBC in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ben Nelms/The Globe and Mail

Rugby Canada fired Jamie Cudmore, a former star player in charge of developing the next generation of talent, on Friday for a series of social media posts belittling the women’s sevens team.

His posts took aim at the sevens squad for its disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics.

Much had been expected of the Canadian women in Tokyo, given their performance in Rio and the fact they were tied with Australia on points for second in the World Rugby Sevens Series standings when the pandemic shut down the season last year.

But the Canadian women lost to Fiji and France after beating Brazil to miss out on the quarter-finals. Their next game in Tokyo is for ninth place.

Cudmore, an enforcer in the rugby field during his playing days, served as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s 15s team and ran Rugby Canada’s national development academy.

The fact that the comments came from within has added to a year of turmoil for the governing body and the sevens women, who launched a formal complaint in January under Rugby Canada’s bullying and harassment policy.

Cudmore apologized for the posts but was relieved of his duties soon after. Rugby Canada called the posts “unacceptable and in breach of organization policy.”

“It was an emotional event for a good friend and I let that get the better of me,” Cudmore said on Twitter. “I’ve always played/coached with my heart on my sleeve for this great country. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone.”

The good friend is former sevens coach John Tait.

In the wake of the complaint filed by 37 current and former team members, an independent review concluded that while the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not fall within Rugby Canada’s policy’s definition of harassment or bullying.

Tait, while maintaining he had done nothing wrong, subsequently stepped down.

A former Canadian international, Tait was one of Rugby Canada’s most successful coaches, leading the sevens team to the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.

The controversy has divided Rugby Canada, with most of Tait’s staff leaving.

It appears Cudmore could not resist taking a shot at the women given their Olympic performance under interim coach Mick Byrne.

“Karma is a bitch! #Survivorsmyass,” read a since-deleted Cudmore tweet.

“Rugby Canada stands with our women’s 7s athletes,” the governing body said in its initial response on social media. “We support the team in their efforts both on and off the rugby pitch and are proud of the way they have represented our country. Rugby Canada is aware of recent social media comments made about the team and worked to ensure they were removed as quickly as possible.

“Our organizational values include solidarity and respect, and everyone on our staff is expected to help create an inclusive environment for all. We condemn any inappropriate comments directed at the team and our leadership will be meeting to address this matter immediately.”

Rugby Canada upped the ante hours later, relieving Cudmore of his duties. CEO Allen Vansen said in a series of tweets that the organization had concluded “that immediate action must be taken.”

“Rugby Canada’s core values, including integrity and respect, must be exemplified in all our rugby programs and we are determined to promote a healthy, inclusive culture now and in future,” Rugby Canada board chair Sally Dennis said in the statement.

Cudmore won 43 caps for Canada, playing in both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. The 6-foot-5, 257-pound lock forward is one of Canada’s most famous exports – a hard man on the rugby pitch who was no stranger to suspensions for taking matters into his own hands on the field.

Several of Cudmore’s deleted tweets were captured and posted by sevens player Charity Williams.

Canada’s Charity Williams breaks away to score a try in the women’s Pool B match between Team Canada and Team Brazil during the Rugby Sevens on Day 6 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 29, 2021.

Dan Mullan/Getty Images AsiaPac

“I wanted to take this moment to talk about our performance and how proud I am of this team beyond any result,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Because I am, and what we accomplished this year is far greater than one weekend. What this team stands for and who we have become means that young female athletes across Canada can play their sport and feel safe. I’m proud of that.

“But instead I have to sit here once again and share what we’ve been going through as a team. The consistent hatred we have received from people in our own organization. I’m only sharing because this is what we have been dealing with for months. From private texts, to public stalking online and in person. The bullying and harassment that we have received for coming forward is outrageous and scary at times. This is the reason we called for an internal investigation because we haven’t been safe.”

In the wake of that probe, the players said they had been let down by Rugby Canada’s harassment and bullying policy – which has since been updated and replaced.

Rugby Canada says it plans a “detailed, independent review of all performance rugby programs starting next month with a goal of positioning teams for success in supportive, inclusive environments.”

Captain Ghislaine Landry also took to social media from Tokyo.

“We always knew this was about more than rugby, about more than one tournament, even if it’s the Olympics. We knew the last nine months might put our Olympic dream in jeopardy, we had that discussion as a group, and still the decision was clear. We were ready to put our dreams at risk for change.

“This has not been a distraction but it has taken a toll on us. And so, while we are heartbroken not to have been able to play our best, we are proud and united.”

In a statement released April 28, the players said their complaint “explained the psychological abuse, harassment and/or bullying these athletes feel they were subjected to in the centralized training environment.”

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Nigerian sprinter Okagbare out of Olympics after testing positive for human growth hormone –



Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medallist Blessing Okagbare on Saturday was provisionally suspended after testing positive for human growth hormone before the Tokyo Olympics, the Athletics Integrity Unit said in a statement.

The 32-year old, who has also won world championship medals in the 200-metre and the long jump and is competing in her fourth Olympics, had comfortably won her 100-metre heat on Friday with a time of 11.05 seconds, qualifying for Saturday’s semifinal.

She was also due to compete in the 200, and the 4×100-metre relay.

“The athlete was notified of the adverse analytical finding and of her provisional suspension this morning in Tokyo,” the AIU said.

The unit said she tested positive in an out-of-competition test on July 19 and was informed of her suspension on Saturday.

This is the latest blow for Nigeria’s athletics team after 10 track-and-field athletes were ruled as ineligible for the Tokyo Games three days ago for failing to meet minimum testing requirements.

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On the list of banned substances, human growth hormone reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and strength and helps in recovery, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Okagbare’s silver medal from the Beijing Games was a result of her being upgraded in 2017 after the International Olympic Committee disqualified Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva due to a doping offence. She had originally finished third in that long jump competition.

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Canada’s Kylie Masse wins silver in 200m backstroke at Tokyo Olympics –



TOKYO — Kylie Masse has won her second medal of the Tokyo Olympics with a silver medal in the women’s 200-metre backstroke.

The 25-year-old from LaSalle, Ont., finished in two minutes 5.42 seconds on Saturday — behind Kaylee McKeown (2:04.68) and ahead of Emily Seebohm (2:06.17), both of Australia.

The Canadian women’s swim team has generated five medals in Tokyo, including Masse’s other silver in the 100-metre backstroke on Tuesday.

“I know I have high expectations of myself, but I’m really happy to have gotten on the podium a second time at an Olympic Games,” Masse said.

She has a chance at a third medal as she’s expected to swim the backstroke leg of the women’s medley relay on Sunday.

Masse led at 150 metres in the 200, but was caught at the wall by McKeown.

“I knew it was going to come down to the last bit,” Masse said. “I think maybe from how I felt, my stroke rate maybe slowed down a bit at the end.

“I’ll have to look back on the race and talk to the coaches, but that was a best time for me, a Canadian record, so I have to be pleased with that.”

Masse’s Canadian teammate Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., finished sixth with a time of 2:08.24.

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