Sports has been one of the major entertainment fixation of humans since the time we began building civilization. Over time, sportsmen have become celebrities, and globalization and televisation of sports has increased the stakes and the fans manifold. In arenas that define the very word competitive, it is not unusual for people to resort to any means to succeed. Indiscretions and misdeeds of sportsmen doesn’t go under the radar any longer as well. Here are some biggest scandals that rocked various sporting events –
The 2015 FIFA Scandal - In 2015, the US federal authorities brought forward explosive allegations against a number of officials associated with FIFA in May 2015, just a year shy of the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil. The allegations contained hundred of millions of dollars being used for bribery, fraud and money laundering in a collusion between FIFA and continental football bodies. Marketing rights to televise the FIFA games in the Americas, influencing sponsorship contracts, and the selection of host countries were all said to have been carried out in unfair and corrupt manners. While the corruption and opaque functioning of FIFA, which arguably controls one of the most lucrative and prestigious sporting events – the men’s world cup – has been under question for a long time, this was the first time such a massive amount of information had become public and under investigation. Bidding for 2026 World Cup was postponed amongst a number of arrests and suspensions, and questions about FIFA’s integrity continue to range.
The 2013 IPL Scandal – In 2013, the sixth season of the most attended cricket league in the world ran into controversy once again after three crickets were arrested in Delhi over spot-fixing, and two more were arrested in Mumbai for having links with bookies. The scandal came a mere year after the a 2012 sting operation had poached five other crickets, who in turn also revealed that the funding that came for their franchises was black money, belonging to their influential owners. Ironically, the BCCI’s head, who stated that ‘no such nonsense would be tolerated’ in 2012, was asked to step down in 2013 as his own son-in-law was under investigation for match-fixing. While the IPL is considered to be a major cricketing competition and had often been praised with adding merit to India’s sporting appeal and economic gain, the repeated charges of match-fixing and other money related scams have often overshadowed the positives.
3. The Olympics
Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding’s Feud – In a bizarre scandal that started in the US and ended at the Olympic ice skating rink, American skater and world silver medallist Tonya Harding found herself banned for life after an attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan. Kerrigan was attacked with a club on her knee in 1994, forcing her out of important national events. The attack had come from an assailant hired by Tonya’s ex-husband, possibly to help Harding shine better at the nationals and Olympics. However, Kerrigan recovered in time, and while Tonya placed eight, Nancy became an Olympic silver medallist. The scandal and the two women have continued to be of intense interest, and have been the subject of a number of documentaries, books, and movies (the latest of which came out in 2017), has kept the interest alive, and cemented the feud as a media frenzy, putting it above a number of other controversies that went down in the Olympics.
Tiger Wood’s Infidelity – As stated, sportsmen and women are today faced with just as much public scrutiny as has traditionally been reserved for Hollywood stars. In 2009, the world’s single best golfer and one of the highest paid athletes of the world woke up to a scandal as a newspaper published reports of his infidelity. Woods had a wife and two children at that time. He cancelled an appearance in his own charity golfing tournament, and subsequently released three apology statements, the same as more than a dozen women came forward claiming to have had an affair with him. A number of companies cancelled their adverts featuring Woods, or completely terminated their relationship with him. This was followed by a series of injuries, arrests and treatments, following which he gradually recovered his standing, at least in golf.
Sporting scandals may seem like an abstract thing to content with, but given the fact that there is so much of expectation, hard work, pride, and money riding on these tournaments, the public may need to be more aware of them, as it can be the only way these competition can be held in a free and fair manner.