Football Article

Top 10 Sport Controversies

Professional sport can never be without its problems. If you are looking for something that has gone wrong in the world of sports, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to ponder over. Here’s a look at some that really shook the sporting world.

10. A Cold War

At the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, the United States took on Russia in the finals of the basketball competitions. After a series of 62 consecutive wins, the Americans had been dominant but this match was closer than expected. Down 50-49, with three seconds to go, the Soviets called a time-out. However, the clock was allowed to run until only a second was left on it. The Americans started to celebrate while the Russians protested.

The game resumed with 1 second on the clock and then, the USA were victorious. However, R. William Jones, a British official ruled that the clock had been stopped incorrectly. Once resuming from the right place, the Soviets played the ball in, scored and beat the Americans in one of the biggest controversies in Olympic sports.

09. Shoal “Shit” Creek

In 1990, the Shoal Creek golf club was scheduled to host the 1990 PGA Championships. The owner, Hall Thompson made it clear that African- Americans could not be a part of the club. As black organizations threatened to block out the premises, sponsors pulled their money out for commercials on ABC and ESPN. Nine days before the tournament, an agreement was reached to integrate the club.

08. Tar & Feathers for McClelland

In July, 1983, the Kansas City Royals took on the New York Yankees in a regular season game. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals’ George Brett smashed a home run, eventually allow the Royals to grab a 5-4 win. Yankees manager, Billy Martin came up to home plate umpire Tim McClelland and stated that Brett had used an illegal substance on his bat. The pine tar used to increase grip hasn’t been known to affect the hitting capabilities of the bat.

Even if used beyond the acceptable margins, the maximum punishment is to put that bat out of the game. However, umpire McClelland decided to cancel Brett’s home run and awarded the game to the Yankees. An official protest saw this decision being thrown out of the window and the game was slated to be replayed after Brett’s homer, at a later date. The result remained the same as the Royals won 5-4.

07. England’s Sole World Cup Title

At the 1966 FIFA World Cup final, England took on West Germany in a battle between two eternal football-enemies. While losing 2-1 to England, with just minutes to go, West Germany equalised with a quick freekick. The ball appeared to hit Karl-Heinz Schnellinger’s hand before hitting the back of the net.

As the match went into extra time, England took the lead with a goal that killed the West Germans off. Geoff Hurst smashed a shot from close range and the ball hit the underside of the bar, bounced outside the goal line and was cleared. The referee consulted the Russian linesman who confirmed the goal. Later, as technology improved, studies showed that the ball had, in fact, bounced a couple of feet outside the goal line.

As such a major difference was bound to be noticed, the linesman was asked, on his deathbed, why he hadn’t said anything. In reply, he said only one word “Stalingrad”.

06. Cricket Match Fixing

The sport was brought into disrepute when former Indian pace bowler, Manoj Prabhakar decided to launch into a host of match fixing allegations against former Indian captains Mohammed Azharuddin and world cup winning captain, Kapil Dev. Former South African captain, late Hansie Cronje admitted to the charges while others in his team were convicted as well. The Indian side of match fixing was never proven in court and the likes of Mohammed Azharuddin were banned for life without trial.

The sport never recovered as constant allegations of match fixing kept cropping up with the Pakistan team. A huge bookies’ nexus that stretches from Pakistan, India, the Middle East and even England, has forced people into taking a fresh look at their cricket matches.

05. The 1978 Dutch Scandal

Having beaten Italy to reach the finals of the 1978 FIFA World Cup, the Dutch were celebrating. The tournament was being played in Argentina and the hosts would square up against the favourites in the finals. The post-game party in the Dutch team’s hotel was held in an indoor pool, with booze, nude players & women gambolling about behind closed curtains.

However, the hotel management had other plans. They raised the curtains to reveal a host of Argentine and world newspapers standing with cameras. The next day, all newspapers in Holland carried the story and the entire Dutch team, in preparation for the finals, spent three days talking to their wives over the telephone.

A cheap shot, but one that worked very well as the Dutch lost out and later refused to stay back for the presentation ceremony.

04. All Doped Out

Jose Canseco didn’t do much in the world of baseball. To make money, he decided to tell all about what really went on inside the world of baseball. He authored a book that said everything there was to say about the drug scene in baseball. He not only named himself, but brought in the names of players such as Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez. Well, if playing baseball can’t make money for you, writing about its dark side surely can.

03. Tiger Woods

It has to be said that 118 affairs is a lot, by any standards. While this wasn’t directly affecting any sport as such, the scandal was large enough to make a huge difference to the performance of one of the best golfers of all time. Tiger may not have his wife anymore, but he will still have his game, something he must start concentrating on again. In any case, whether he was a Tiger in the Woods or not, he doesn’t have to hide anything anymore.

02. Bid for 2018 FIFA World Cup

It may not have been decided yet but the news that a few of the judging panel members were asking for bribes, in return for their votes, made the selection of the host nation for the 2018 World Cup quite disappointing. Well, who are we kidding? This has been around for donkeys’ years! Salt Lake City got the winter Olympics like that, and possibly all bids in the history of major sporting events have always been won like this. However, this was one that hit the news-stands and that makes it one of the biggest scandals of all time.

01. Calciopoli

In 2006, the world woke up to a massive news bulletin that spoke of match fixing in the Italian Serie A, one of the top football leagues in the world. The people affected were not the small fry, but league champions Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Reggina and Lazio. There were telephone conversations between team managers & owners and match officials & referees.

While none of the allegations were proven in a court of law, Juventus was relegated to Serie B while AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio were docked major points. Inter Milan got out scot free but in the end, lack of evidence meant that even Juventus would not be implicated in the scandal. The game was rocked in Italy as referee’s decisions were found to change the course of the game.

Anjali nambissan
Sports Pundit member

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