U of T doesn’t give cultural sporting event support it deserves

Vanja Vukosavljevic

It would seem obvious that U of T, one of the most multicultural schools in the country, would offer support to an event promoting diversity.

But U of T has failed to recognize the significance of the World Cup of Clubs soccer tournament year after year, and has made it difficult for organizers to put the event together.

Vince Messina, captain of this year’s title-winning U of T Italian-Canadian Association soccer team, was in charge of organizing this year’s event, which took place earlier this month. Like his predecessors, Messina met numerous obstacles in booking space with the Office of Space Management.

Every year, the OSM refuses to let the tournament take place on the King’s College Circle field for a full day every year. As a result, matches start at 8 a.m. and a winner must be declared by 4 p.m.

The OSM claims these restrictions are inevitable due to office policy and students who need to cross the field during the day. Many event participants claim these are unwritten rules and hope to push the OSM to be more flexible. Space and time restrictions limit the number of clubs able to participate in the event and keep the tournament from growing.

Neil Briggs, who played for the EFUT French Club’s team, said, “U of T has blocked us in terms of time. I would like to see bigger tournaments, all semester, like intramurals. But the OSM won’t let us book the field until the last minute and last-minute schedules mean fewer players.”

Briggs said that getting access to the field ahead of time would result in a better turnout, and that having it more frequently and for longer would give the World Cup of Clubs the opportunity to really take off. Yet the OSM seems to ignore students’ complaints year after year.

Last year’s organizer Antonin Mongeau explained, “It’s always the same problem with the OSM — they just don’t want to give us access to the fields. We complained last year and the situation hasn’t changed.”

The event promotes cultural diversity at U of T. It gives students an opportunity to represent their backgrounds and embrace one of the world’s most popular sports. Participants were frustrated by the inability of administration to recognize why the World Cup of Clubs is so important.

Bernardo Melendez, coach of the Organization of Latin American Students’ team, admitted that he is playing for cultural pride. Elena Moliotsias of the Greek team said, “I feel like we’re representing the Greeks at U of T.

“There is no other tournament that has this cultural aspect to it, so this event is really important.”