Saturday, June 3, 2023

Mostafa Asal: the boy of extremes who has polarised squash

Having a balanced view of squash’s most schismatic star Mostafa Asal is impossible. He polarises opinion like no other player in the game’s history. He demands attention. Ignoring him is not an option.  Rather like Brexit, Donald Trump or Harry and Meghan, it seems absolutely nobody is ‘on the fence’ on the issue of Mostafa […]

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  1. Very good opinion piece.
    I watch a lot of squash and all the main PSA tournaments.
    Asal is a very skilful and gifted player. His forehand is unbelievable and he can hit winners at will.
    He has a large frame and unfortunately his natural game involves taking up a lot of room. Plus on top of that he also uses blocking tactics. Personally I think that most of his blocking movements are just his natural court movement, unfortunately for him he has to change his game.
    He also unfortunately doesn’t call balls down, classic examples when he hit a ball into the floor when playing P Coll a while ago and recently a blatant double bounce against Joel M. A player of his caliber must know if he hits a ball into the floor and has a double bounce, to me it’s blatant cheating and I got banned from Squash Stories for saying just that.
    If you watch him in slow motion he also very subtly pulls opponents arms when close to them.
    Social media and especially Jamie Maddox are not helping this young man in any way. They to me are making him believe he is doing nothing wrong.
    His hitting a ball into players is the same as throwing a controller at a TV. That was a very insightful comment.

  2. So, if at 10-all of the fifth game two players drop their racquets and start throwing punches at each other (hypothetically), then it’s a good thing as long as it makes it into headlines? What about if after a call not-favorable to a player, he/she decides to open the door and run toward the referee and needs to be held by people in the stands? Is that spicy enough to appear in the news and therefore be considered good behavior for squash? Bad sportsmanship is bad for sport, and if more people are getting interested in squash because of that then they are getting the wrong idea.

  3. Yes, he is talented but you don’t need the theatrics it doesn’t make squash watchable or enjoyable. Ramy Ashour is arguably the most talented player I have seen in my 40 years of playing and watching squash and he put bums on seats without any of the pfaff, just his racket skills. I often wish Asal would take a leaf out of the Ashour playbook, he simply used his talents to blow his opponents away and the crowd’s minds…

  4. A balanced piece on Asal is a bold endeavour to take on Mike but there just aren’t any counter-arguments in favour of his ill-discipline, immaturity or dangerous play. Are there any players joining squash because of Asal? Unlike other realms of society, I would contend that not all press is good in sport while the atrociously compromised IOC have always had their own bought-off, immutable agenda. In a similar vein to tennis’ Kyrgios, but with more genuinely dangerous play than the Aussie, it’s up to both players to decide what roles they want within their sports and to take responsibility for the consequences – Asal’s inability to do so this week from his social posts only underlines the regrettable immaturity that stands in his way. No sport needs to make room for the kinds of rudeness, disrespect and simply childish behaviour he continues to display. To take another tennis parallel, looking at how Federer started compared with how he retired, there was limited space in the game for him before he grew up, surely the same must be true for anyone playing and behaving like Asal in our sport?

  5. “haven’t we long been begging for a stand-out personality at the top of the sport”…who has been? This is such a pathetic, needy perspective. And the worst part is, it seems like the PSA actually thinks this way. The fact that the power brokers in the sport act like high school kids wanting to be included amongst the cool kids (the major sports) is an even worse reflection on Squash than Asal’s behaviour. He should have been suspended to the point of not wanting to even play anymore, but keeps getting these little BS slaps on the wrist and never changes.

    And what Makin did last week is what has to be done. The PSA and referees have created this situation by letting Asal get away with his antics for so long. If he’s going to play that way, everyone will play that way…and they should. This is what Chris Binnie did in that 2018 match…Asal had been blocking all week and Binnie did it back to him but better, and Asal lost his mind. But that summary fails to mention the crying, screaming, and physically threatening the ref. In most other sports in Canada, a player acting that way would have ended up on his back with a busted lip.

    Anyone who cheers for this guy is blinded by national pride, immaturity, or perhaps somehow knowing him personally. Imagine if a generation of up and coming junior players model their game if this guy (and lets not forget his headcase father who’s currently suspended from attending tournaments). He’s objectively an a-hole. He’s behaved like one, has been punished, and has continued to do it…so he has earned the title. And yes, referees are now maybe being overly harsh on him compared to other players. But he’s earned it, and maybe they’re making up for lost time. Asal can fix this by playing clean. If he’s as talented as everyone says, he should be able to win anyway.

    I feel like we talk about Asal far too much. My only hope is that all this talk doesn’t promote his persona, but instead contributes to the end of his career sooner than later.

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