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Families of Flight PS752 victims call for cancellation of soccer match with Iran – CBC News

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Families who lost loved ones in the destruction of Flight PS752 are demanding that Canada Soccer abandon its plan to host Iran for a men’s soccer friendly next month in Vancouver.

The families call the planned match a slap in the face and say they want the federal government to refuse to grant visas to Iranian soccer players and those travelling with the team.

“They have no understanding, they have no sympathy, they have no hearts, in my opinion, Canada Soccer,” said Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the association representing families. His wife and 9-year-old daughter died on the flight.

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“I feel betrayed by the organization and betrayed by the government … This is a way to normalize the relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It’s called sports-washing.”

South Korea’s Son Heung-min, centre, fights for the ball with Iran’s Shojae Khalilzadeh and Ali Gholi Zadeh, left, in Seoul, South Korea on March 24, 2022. Families of those who died when Iranian forces shot down Flight PS752 say they want to see a planned match in Canada with Iran’s team cancelled. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukrainian jetliner with a pair of surface-to-air missiles shortly after takeoff in Tehran in 2020, killing all 176 people onboard, including 85 Canadians and permanent residents. 

Iran has blamed a series of human errors for the downing of the commercial plane. Canada’s own forensic analysis found that the IRGC’s “recklessness, incompetence, and wanton disregard for human life” was to blame.

A UN special rapporteur went further, accusing Iranian authorities of multiple violations of human rights and international law in the lead-up to the missile attack and its aftermath.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp fired two surface-to-air missiles at Flight PS752, killing all 176 people onboard on Jan, 8, 2020. (Reuters)

Since then, victims’ families have faced intimidation, harassment and threats from “threat actors linked to proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to a CSIS report.

The families say this soccer match opens up the border to the IRGC and they wonder whether Iranian intelligence agents will travel with the team to Canada.

Kambiz Foroohar, a journalist and strategic consultant focusing on Iran, has written that in recent decades most sports clubs in Iran have been “taken over by political or security-military organizations, with former Revolutionary guards holding the top positions.”

“Because of football’s popularity, there is significant involvement by regime insiders,” he wrote on the Middle East Institute’s website.

‘It wasn’t a very good idea’ — Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told CBC News that arranging the game was not a good idea and that Canada Soccer needs to explain itself. Asked whether the federal government might refuse to grant visas to the visiting Iranian team, Trudeau did not answer.

“This was a choice by [Canada Soccer],” Trudeau told a press conference in St. John’s. “I think it wasn’t a very good idea to invite the Iranian soccer team here to Canada, but that’s something the organizer’s going to have to explain.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement that it could not comment on any specific visa requests “without written consent” due to privacy rules. It said that all visitors are “carefully screened” before coming into Canada and can be considered inadmissible for violating human or international rights, or if there are security concerns. 

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts to news of soccer match with Iran

Trudeau says Canada hosting Iran for soccer match was not a ‘very good idea’

15 hours ago

Duration 0:28

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was Canada Soccer’s decision to host Iran for a men’s friendly on June 5 in Vancouver, and that the organizers would have to explain their choice.

On Tuesday, Canada Soccer issued a statement defending the decision to stage the match in Canada.

“At Canada Soccer, we believe in the power of sport and its ability to bring people from different backgrounds and political beliefs together for a common purpose,” said the statement.

“Iran is one of 32 participating member associations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Canada Soccer continues to follow all international protocols in staging this match.  We are focused on preparations for our Men’s National Team to compete on the world stage.”

The destruction of Flight PS752 isn’t the only source of questions about the planned June 5 soccer match at B.C. Place Stadium.

Discrimination against women at soccer matches

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, ordered Iran in 2019 to allow women to access its stadiums without any restrictions. Iran promised to end its roughly 40-year ban and changed the rules on paper.

But Human Rights Watch reported that Iranian authorities stopped dozens of women on March 29 from entering a soccer stadium to watch a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match between Iran and Lebanon.

A video on social media appears to show women in front of the stadium alleging pepper spray was used to disperse them after they already had purchased tickets to the game in the city of Mashhad.

The Iranian Football Federation later issued a statement saying that, “due to a lack of preparation,” they couldn’t accommodate women at the game and that fraudulent tickets were given out by fans. 

Iranian soccer fan Sahar Khodayari, nicknamed Blue Girl, died after setting herself on fire outside a court in Tehran in 2019. Khodayari had been charged after trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man.

‘My daughter Reera loved soccer’

Esmaeilion questions why a Canadian government that takes pains to present itself as feminist would want to have anything to do with this team. 

“This government claims they are a defender of women’s rights,” he said. “They invite Iranian football federation here. They have no respect for women’s rights.”

His wife Parisa Eghbalian and 9-year-old daughter Reera Esmaeilion died on Flight PS752. Reera played for the Richmond Hill Soccer Club.

Reera Esmaeilion, age 9, playing soccer. She died on Flight PS752 in January, 2020. (Submitted by Hamed Esmaeilion )

“My daughter Reera loved soccer and played the sport every week,” he said. “My memory of her love for this game makes this situation even more confusing and difficult to process.”

He said there’s a double-standard at work in the soccer realm that encourages countries to sanction Russia through sports, but not Iran.

Victims’ families have written letters to Canada Soccer and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. The families say they have not received a response yet. They’re also calling on Canadian players to push back against the game.

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The Best Canadian Players Ever To Play In The NFL

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When people talk about the best players in the history of the NFL, they usually talk about American players. Well, when we consider that most of the legends were from this country, this should not come as a surprise. The case is the same today. Just take a look at thegameday.com and you will see who the most popular individual players are and the top betting picks for football enthusiasts.

However, looking further north, we can see that there are many splendid Canadian players who graced the NFL with their talent.

Let’s take a look at the best ones who played in the league.

Nate Burleson

This ridiculously talented American-Canadian football player had a successful career in the league. He played as a wide receiver for various teams throughout his career, including the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Cleveland Browns. Burleson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

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He quickly made a difference on the field, showcasing his speed, agility, and reliable hands. During his time with the Vikings, he became known for his ability to make acrobatic catches and his versatility as a receiver. In 2006, Burleson signed with the Seattle Seahawks, where he continued to excel. He played a key role in the team’s success, helping them reach the Super Bowl in the 2005 season. However, injuries limited his playing time during his tenure with the Seahawks.

In 2010, this wonderful man joined the Detroit Lions, where he had some of the best years of his career. He formed a dynamic receiving duo with Calvin Johnson, and together they became one of the most formidable wide receiver tandems in the league. Burleson’s leadership and veteran presence were also highly valued by his teammates. After his time with the Lions, Burleson signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

Bronko Nagurski

This football diety wrote a delightful piece of the NFL history and he made the whole of Canada proud. He played as a fullback and defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s and early 1940s. Nagurski was known for his incredible strength and power on the field, earning him a reputation as one of the toughest players of his time.

During his splendid career, Nagurski helped lead the Bears to multiple championships, including the NFL Championship in 1932, 1933, and 1940. He was a dominant force on both offense and defense, known for his ability to break tackles and his hard-hitting style of play. Nagurski’s physicality and versatility made him a standout player in an era when two-way players were common.

He was later shown the heavenly doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. This of course, only made his legacy a legit one in this neck of the woods. What do his colleagues have to say about him? Well, most of them remember him being one of the toughest dudes to roam the green fields.

Mike Vanderjagt

This absolute legend became famous for playing as a placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2005 and later for the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. Vanderjagt was known for his accuracy as a kicker and he has the NFL record for the most consecutive field goals made with 42. He was also the first kicker in NFL history to have a perfect season, making all of his field goal and extra point attempts in 2003.

Vanderjagt was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his career and was a key contributor to the Colts’ success during his time with the team. Imagine having those tales to tell the kiddies on your lap when you get old.

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Jimmy Butler steals the show on NBA media day with ‘emo’ phase look following Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks

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CNN — 

Whether or not Miami Heat’s golden child Jimmy Butler’s new “emo” look is just a phase, the NBA star carried it off with some aplomb, drawing plenty of laughs from his teammates.

One year on from his memorable fake dreadlocks look, the 34-year-old outdid himself by turning up at the Heat’s media day on Monday sporting a straightened fringe, piercings in his eyebrow and lips and painted black nails.

Butler said he’s now “emo” and after the summer he and the Heat have had, who can blame him?

After former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and his agent publicly stated on numerous occasions that he would only want to play for Miami, it seemed like a matter of when, not if, the 33-year-old would end up in South Beach.

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Butler led the Heat to an improbable NBA Finals appearance as the eight seed last season, so it’s easy to imagine his excitement at the prospect of Lillard’s addition to the roster pushing the team over the top and to its first title in the post-Lebron James era.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) gets his new hairdo brushed at the start of a TV interview, during the NBA basketball team's media day, in Miami, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

However, the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in last week with a package that blew Miami’s out of the water, meaning Lillard will now be plying his trade in Wisconsin and not Florida.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” Butler said as he entered his press conference, pushing his fringe out of his eyes. “I’m emo. This is my emotional state, I’m at one with my emotions so this is what you get.”

Despite failing to acquire Lillard and losing key contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, Butler remains confident ahead of the upcoming season, telling reporters the Heat are going to win it all.

If it’s good news that he’s now at one with his emotions, Butler might just also be a gifted method actor and isn’t actually going through a belated “emo” phase. The six-time All Star could be heard saying “don’t make me break character” as he entered the press conference.

Oct 2, 2023; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler poses for a photo during media day. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

His new character was certainly a hit with his teammates and had Bam Adebayo crying tears of laughter as the pair were having their photos taken for the new season – which means, yes, Butler will have this hair in official photos for the entire year.

Certainly not someone to do things by halves, Butler was fully immersed in his new state and even posted songs from emo bands on his Instagram story throughout the day.

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Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Ways to Choose an Online Sportsbook

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In the ever-expanding world of online sports betting, selecting the right sportsbook is crucial. This is to ensure an enjoyable and secure gambling experience. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. For instance, you can be looking into sites like BestOdds to find a sportsbook to go with but do not know what exactly to check.

This article will explain the basics of finding an excellent online sportsbook.

Licensing and Regulation

The first and most critical factor when choosing an online sportsbook is ensuring it operates in a legal and transparent manner. A reputable sportsbook should possess a valid license from a recognized regulatory authority. These licenses indicate that the sportsbook adheres to strict standards, including fair play, responsible gambling and financial security.

Before registering, check for the sportsbook’s licensing information. In most cases, you will find this in the footer of their website. Some of the most reputable regulatory bodies for online sports betting include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.

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Additionally, research the sportsbook’s track record for regulatory compliance and any previous non-payment or unethical practices incidents. User reviews and industry news sources can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s reputation.

Odds and Betting Markets

The quality of odds and the variety of betting markets offered are key factors in determining the suitability of an online sportsbook. Competitive odds provide better potential returns for your bets, while a wide range of markets allows you to explore different betting options.

Compare odds from multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bet value. Some websites and apps even offer odds comparison tools to make this process more convenient.

Moreover, consider the breadth of sports and events covered by the sportsbook. Whether you’re into mainstream sports like football, basketball, or soccer or niche sports and events, the sportsbook should offer diverse markets to cater to your preferences.

Security and Payment Options

Security is paramount when sharing personal and financial information with an online sportsbook. Look for sportsbooks that employ the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), to safeguard your data. Consider factors like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security further.

Payment options are another critical aspect. Ensure the sportsbook offers convenient and secure methods for depositing and withdrawing funds. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, e-wallets (like PayPal or Skrill) and cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). Choosing a sportsbook that supports your preferred payment method is essential to streamline your betting experience.

 

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