The Other Muslim Soccer Star in Kansas City

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Compiled by Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Reporters_wcup_nigeria14Senegalese soccer player Birahim Diop welcomed a new Muslim teammate to Sporting Kansas this season with the arrival of heralded striker Soony Saad. But Diop himself has been in Major League Soccer (MLS) for three seasons now. He originally began his career in Senegal with US Rail de Thiès. In one year at the club he appeared in 25 matches scoring 15 goals. He then went on to ASC Jeanne d’Arc and scored 12 goals and added 7 assists in his one year at the club.

In 2001 Diop moved to the United States and joined the New York/New Jersey MetroStars reserve squad. He then impressed the coaching brass to move up to the senior squad appearing in 4 league matches in 2002. Following his stay in New York, Diop moved to Colombian side Deportivo Pereira, before being re-united once again with his former coach in New York Octavio Zambrano at CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol in Moldova. In his first season with CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol Diop appeared in 15 league matches and scored 3 goals playing as a holding midfielder. In 2008 Diop returned to the U.S. and played for FDR United in New York City’s amateur leagues, scoring 19 goals in 25 matches.

On March 17, 2010, Diop joined the Kansas City Wizards, as an addition to their midfield. Diop was reunited with coach Octavio Zambrano once again, as he was now an assistant coach for Kansas City. Diop scored his first two MLS goals on August 21, 2010 in a 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Diop than recorded the first hat trick of his career on October 23, 2010 in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Diop enjoyed his best year in Major League soccer in 2010 with the Kansas City Wizards appearing in 14 league matches and scoring 5 goals.

This season, the 22 year old midfielder has yet to score a goal in 18 games played with Kansas City. He has, however, started eight games, and has recorded an assist. At 6’3” and 175 pounds, Diop is an imposing figure in the Sporting Kansas City midfield. And as a result of his size he often plays as a striker. But with Soony Saad part of the strikeforce nowadays, he and Diop could have the makings of quite a scoring pair moving forward.

13-40

Diouf: College Soccer Player of the Month

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

uconn-logoSophomore soccer player Mamadou Doudou Diouf was named the Big East Player of the Week after scoring four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick against Cal.

Diouf led UConn to a 2-0 week with a 2-1 victory over Michigan State on Thursday and a commanding 4-1 defeat of No. 7 California on Sunday. Both games were played at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs. He finished the weekend with four goals, including a hat trick against California.

Diouf opened the week with his first goal of the season against Michigan State. On Sunday, Diouf netted UConn’s first hat trick since current senior Tony Cascio registered three goals against South Florida on September 24, 2010. Diouf calmly buried two penalty kicks in the second half and scored from the run of play in the first half to make it 1-0. Diouf’s second goal of the day was the game-winning goal.

The 6’1” striker originally hails from Dakar, Senagal. After a successful freshman season with the University of Connecticut, Diouf has started his sophomore season with a bang. And all of this has been at the young age of 20, with him turning 21 on September 15th.

13-37

Soony Saad Joins Major League Soccer

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Michael Nanchoff #9 of the University of Akron sends the ball past Soony Saad #8 of the University of Michigan during the 2010 College Cup semi-final at Harder Stadium, on December 10 2010, in Santa Barbara, California.Akron won 2-1.

A University of Akron player sends a ball past Soony Saad of the University of Michigan at the 2010 College Cup Semifinal in Santa Barbara, California, on December 10, 2010.

Muslim soccer player Soony Saad has now gone from Michigan high school star, to college soccer sensation, to now professional soccer player all in a matter of a year and a half. Saad enjoyed a prolific freshman season with the University of Michigan men’s soccer team, scoring 19 goals and leading his team to the Final Four. But afterward, the lure of professional soccer proved too great. He left the team this spring after the season concluded and traveled to Europe to try out for a number of large European soccer organizations. But after failing find the right opportunities, Saad has returned home to the United States and has committed to Major League Soccer (MLS). And this week, in a weighted lottery, Sporting Kansas City of MLS has now won the rights to the Lebanese-American forward.

Sporting Kansas City already has what American soccer expert Ives Galarcep describes as “…one of the deepest and strongest collection of forwards in MLS…” But any team could use the natural scoring talents of Soony Saad. Last season Soony teamed up with his brother, midfielder Hamoody Saad, to lead the University of Michigan attack that brought home the Big Ten Conference Title. Before that, as a high school senior in the Detroit area, Saad was named the Gatorade National High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Sporting Kansas City beat out Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire to win Saad’s rights. Now they are hoping that Saad can bring their team trophies as well.

13-28

Turkish Soccer Star Joins Spanish Giants

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-05-09T110721Z_671877595_BM2E7590ZMO01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-SAHIN-REALTurkish midfielder Nuri Sahin announced this week that he will, as expected, complete his move from German champions Borussia Dortmund to the Spanish titlists Real Madrid at the end of the season. The 22-year-old Sahin has arguably been the most influential member of a team packed with potential, and, at 8.8 million pounds, represents a bargain in the current market. That reasonable price tag is a far cry from Real’s free-spending days, and it represents the changing economics of big time football.  And, given the relative success of German imports (and fellow Muslims) Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil this past season, it makes sense that Madrid have once more looked to the German Bundesliga for a further infusion of talent.

In addition to joining Oezil and Khedira, Sahin also joins a couple of other prominent Muslims on the Real Madrid squad: French midfielder Lassana Diarra, and French striker Karim Benzema. Sahin brings further possession and playmaking to the Real Madrid midfield, and while Madrid already has a talented midfield, you can never have enough people feeding the world’s greatest striker, Cristiano Ronaldo.

13-20

Iranian Girls Soccer Team No Longer Banned

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

iran_1610091c It was a happy day for a gaggle of young girls in Iran who were finally being allowed to play ball. The Iranian girls soccer team, who had been banned last month from participating in August’s inaugural Youth Olympics, was now being allowed to compete in the six-nation tournament in Singapore. There was a disagreement between FIFA, the governing body of soccer, and the Iran Football Federation, over what headwear the Iranian girls could don. And on April 5th, FIFA took the step of banning the girls from the upcoming tournament. Thankfully, further discussion ensued, and an agreement was reached the first week of May. “We sent FIFA a sample of our new Islamic dress and fortunately they accepted it,” said Abbas Torabian, director of the International Relations Committee of Iran’s soccer federation. “They announced that there was no objection if the players covered their hair with hats,” he told the Tehran Times. Alas, an accord was reached, but the road traveled to reach the agreement speaks volumes about the state of Islamophobia in this world.

The Iranian National Olympic Committee had originally urged FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to review the ban on the hijab, worn by girls and women as part of Islamic dress code. Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general, rejected the request, saying FIFA had no other choice but the reject Iran’s requests. He cited FIFA’s rulebook of conduct, with Law 4 stating “basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.” So, what this argument attempts to do is to reduce the wearing of the hijib to the level of a political or religious statement, rather than the measure of modesty that it is.

The hijab issue was first examined in 2007 after an 11-year-old girl in Canada was prevented from wearing one for safety reasons. FIFA’s rules-making arm, the International Football Association Board, declined to make an exception for religious clothing. The Quebec Soccer Association said the ban on the hijab is to protect children from being accidentally strangled. This mechanism of strangulation has never been documented in sports, nor has it even been properly explained. And if the covering of the back of the neck is such a violation of sporting principles, then should there not be restrictions also on hair length below the ears?

Faride Shojaee, the vice president of the women’s department of the Iranian Football Federation, said that FIFA officials had previously allowed Iranian athletes to participate in the Olympics with their hijab, “before denying them the right to do so in the letter they sent on Monday.” Several athletes, in fact, competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 wearing a hijab, including Bahrain sprinter Ruqaya Al-Ghasara, her country’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremonies.
The hijab has made its way onto the most wanted list around the globe, but particularly in Europe. France, under Nicholas Sarkoczy, has been well publicized in its growing body of rules outlawing the hijab, particularly in school. Now there is a law on the table in Belgium banning the hijab, and a similar law is being considered in the Netherlands as well. With the growing numbers of Muslims in this world, and the corresponding rise in anti-Islamic sentiment, the hijab does seem to be looked upon as more of a symbol or statement. But that is in the eye of the beholder. An eye that is increasingly becoming jaundiced by Islamophobia.

So, finally, a compromise was reached on, ”… a cap that covers their heads to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck.” Now the Iranian girls are back on track to compete from August 12-25 in Singapore, where about 3,600 athletes, ages 14 to 18, will compete in 26 sports. They will represent Asia against Turkey, Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, and Papua New Guinea. They will have to wear caps instead of hijabs. But, in the end, a happy group of girls will be allowed to play ball. What kind of person would have wanted to prevent that?

12-20