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The Student News Site of NYC iSchool

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Sports recap: Ohtani, World Cup, & more

Shohei+Ohtani+pitching+for+the+Anaheim+Angels.+Source%3A+https%3A%2F%2Fwww.flickr.com%2Fphotos%2F192355779%40N02%2F51004262543
Shohei Ohtani pitching for the Anaheim Angels. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/192355779@N02/51004262543

Why Saudi Arabia hosting the World Cup is bad for soccer

After a fierce bidding war on October 31st, Australia announced their pulling out of their bid to host the 2034 World Cup; this means that the only bidder left would be Saudi Arabia. Following the controversy of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup, that same criticism remains. 

Criticisms of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are complex; they include the poor conditions in which migrants work to build the World Cup’s infrastructure, the illegal consumption of alcohol, and the illegality of homosexuality in the select countries. 

File:Hattan Bahebri 2018.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Hattan Bahebri playing for the Saudi Arabia National Football Team. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hattan_Bahebri_2018.jpg

And Saudi Arabia’s controversy extends beyond that. The country is associated with the murdering of journalists, wrongfully sending women to prison for their presence on social media platforms, mass executions and the murder of migrants at the shared Yemen border. 

Though the plan for Saudi Arabia to host the World Cup has been brewing for almost a year, in part, this is due to the recognition Saudi Arabian soccer gained after a surprise 2-1 victory against — eventual champions — Argentina during the 2022 World Cup. Following the World Cup’s ending, Saudi Arabia swooped in to sign Cristiano Ronaldo to Al-Nassr, their Riyadh club. This signage was used to sign more players to Saudi Arabia’s “Saudi Pro League,” including Neymar, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and others. 

People initially did not take the league seriously since most of the selected players were considered to be past their prime, but perceptions began to change once Saudi Arabia signed Gabri Veiga from Celta Vigo for $40 million at merely twenty-one years of age. In the summer of 2023 alone, Saudi Arabian teams spent over $1 billion on transfers; this is more money spent than the enrollment of Serie A, the Bundesliga, and LaLiga. 

The question of why the Australian Soccer Federation decided to pull out their bid remains. One of those reasons is believed to be related to Indonesia — in hopes to gain more support, Australia asked Indonesia to join their bid. When the agreement did not follow through, Australia let go of their focus on hosting the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup. Interestingly, this is the cup  Saudi Arabia is also attempting to host. 

Following Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup, it is evident FIFA is not particular about finding a quality location to host the cup.  The heat of the Middle East led to the postponing of 2022’s World Cup, ultimately prioritizing athlete health.  

Due to the varying controversy surrounding the World Cup, it is safe to say that many people are not satisfied with its outcome. The concerns following Qatar’s World Cup have been increasingly highlighted, however there is only one bidder. 

Shohei Ohtani’s record-breaking contract

Shohei Ohtani entered the off-season as one of the most accomplished athletes, with two MVP awards, a Rookie of the Year award, two silver-slugger awards and three all-star appearances. However, this incredible resume is compounded by his incredible pitching stats over the past few years, and Ohtani excels in both categories on the diamond. 

File:Shohei Ohtani batting june 8, 2019(48035186097) (cropped).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Shohei Ohtani playing for the Angels. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shohei_Ohtani_batting_june_8,_2019%2848035186097%29_%28cropped%29.jpg

Rumors started swirling around social media and some contained “leaked” media of Ohtani at the Toronto airport. The majority of baseball fans and reporters assumed he was headed to Toronto to sign a contract with the Blue Jays, but this was swiftly disproven. Ohtani shocked the entire sports world by signing the largest contract in sports history, a $700 million dollar contract over ten years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Ohtani’s contract had multiple clauses, but the most important one was the fact that his payments were mostly different. Ohtani was set to earn $70 million dollars per year, but he told all teams that inquired about him that he wanted an all-star team to be built around him, and these different payments will help the Dodgers obtain more star-talent to assist Ohtani in their playoff push. 

Ohtani’s contract surpasses even the largest contracts in sports history, pushing past notable players such as Lionel Messi, Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. This brings up several questions about famous athletes salaries, and if they are fair to society. Regardless, Ohtani will be incredible to watch over the next few years, and it will be exciting to see him play in a new uniform.

C.J. Stroud’s winning drive with record-breaking performance

The No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL draft, C.J. Shroud set a single-game record as a rookie. With 470 passing yards, breaking Andrew Luck’s rookie record of 433, Shroud’s future successes have proven to grow increasingly substantial. Shroud — who plays for the Texans — put up an amazing stat line versus the Buccaneers during the team’s Week Nine win; on top of the 470 passing yards, Shroud had thirty completions, five passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Shroud additionally aided three receivers — Tank Dell, Noah Brown and Dalton Schultz — in earning above one-hundred yards, allowing two of which — Brown and Schultz — to set personal career highs. Brown now leads the Texans with 153 receiving yards and Schultz follows closely behind with 130.

Tank Dell ended with 114 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a game-winning touchdown that set the Texans record to 4-4. In that winning game, Dell brought the score to 39-37, putting the Texans in a sound place for future games.  Totalling 2,270 yards and fourteen touchdowns with only one thrown interception, Stroud is in a comfortable place for Rookie of the Year, leaving fans eager for what else he can bring to the Texans. 

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About the Contributors
James Corradi, Reporter
James Corradi is a freshman at the iSchool. He loves sports, and he watches the New York Yankees, the New York Rangers and Liverpool F.C.. James also listens to a lot of music, mostly rock music, and his favorite bands include The Undertones, The Beatles, Small Faces, and Sloan. James spend most of his time outside of school listening to music and playing sports. James loves writing, especially in the sports section.
Micah Shapiro, Reporter
Micah Shapiro is a freshman at the iSchool, and an iNews Reporter. In his free time he likes to play and watch baseball, play video games and listen to music from bands such as The Police. Micah likes to read the news and read sports books like "Moneyball" and "The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract." Micah usually writes in the sports section, and has tremendous respect for journalists and is related to several.