Sports

Controversial Sports Events That Divided Fans

Darren - July 22, 2021
Sports

Controversial Sports Events That Divided Fans

Darren - July 22, 2021
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. College Football (2020):

Technically. college football players are unpaid amateurs. While we know that they receive many personal benefits, the reality is that their schools are the big winners. Football programs are worth tens of millions of dollars to their schools in TV revenue money. As a result, many of them were desperate for their teams to play in 2020. But the problem was that the rest of the sports world had shut down.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The different leagues had to decide for themselves if it was acceptable to put the health of these young men at risk. It was impossible for them to cocoon like NBA players because that would be special treatment, which is specifically banned under NCAA regulations. In the end, the majority of Division I leagues went ahead because money talks. Also, many young athletes wanted to play to pursue their dream of making it to the NFL.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Joshua vs. Ruiz II (2020):

Boxing has many romantic venues. The likes of Madison Square Garden, the MGM Grand, and London’s York Hall are hallowed ground for the sport. Recently, oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia are trying to buy their way into the action. The Saudi government is actively pursuing sports events because they want to change their image to the world. This is controversial because it doesn’t change the lives of its citizens.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Joshua fought Andy Ruiz in a rematch after he suffered the first defeat of his professional career. Instead of fighting again in New York or in Joshua’s native U.K, they met in Riyadh. This was because Saudi Arabia threw money at Matchroom, Joshua’s promoters. While it was great for the boxer, it wasn’t good for fans of either man because the fight was so far away.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Euro 2020 (2021):

Most countries in Europe closed their borders in 2020 because of the global health crisis. The free movement of people wasn’t such a good thing when there was a genuine risk to millions of lives. Meanwhile, UEFA planned to host a tournament in 14 countries across the continent. This seemed like a crazy move because it meant thousands of people traveled to games.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

Immediately, Ireland and Spain withdrew two stadiums from the tournament. But it went ahead everywhere else. Players tested positive over the course of the next two months. Furthermore, there were spikes in cases across the U.K and other nations where fans gathered in their thousands. In terms of entertainment, it was brilliant. However, when it comes to public health, it was very controversial.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

7. The Rumble In The Jungle (1974):

This became one of Muhammad Ali’s defining moments. He defeated the younger George Foreman in a rematch to reclaim his heavyweight crown. Ali used his Rope-A-Dope tactic to survive against the hard-hitting Foreman. Then, he secured the knockout victory in the right round However, this was a controversial fight because of the location. Also, two dictators funded the fighter’s purses.

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

Zaire Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko agreed to host the event because he thought it would enhance his global image. Meanwhile, the notorious Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi contributed to the boxer’s five million dollar purses. These were two of the most bloodthirsty and abusive leaders on the continent. But boxing is a dirty sport and doesn’t care about who it associates with.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

6. The Hand of God (1986):

Some moments in sport are so brazen that they become iconic. The ‘Hand of God’ remains one of the most controversial events in World Cup history. Diego Maradona broke English hearts when he palmed the ball past Peter Shilton into the net. The English players protested but the referee allowed the goal to stand. Shilton never forgave Maradona for his moment of cheating.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Then he scored one of the most spectacular goals ever when he danced past half of the English team. While English fans still complain about this result, they overlook the fact that their players spent the game hacking at Maradona’s ankles. The Argentine star had the last laugh as he embarrassed the English. His country won the World Cup and Maradona sealed his place as an icon.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. The Black Sox World Series (1919):

Baseball is traditionally one of the most corrupt sports in the world. Of course, steroid use became the story of the day at the turn of the 21st century. But the sport always had a problem with gambling. The most notorious incident came in 1919 when the Chicago White Sox played the Cincinnati Reds. In short, the White Sox threw the game and sealed their place in infamy.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

A gambling syndicate bribed eight members of the White Sox roster to lose. It became a national outrage and all eight men received lifetime bans from the sport. These included the legendary ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson. Before this event, he was on track to make the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, they earned the “Black Sox” moniker because they tarnished the image of their franchise.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

4. Russia 2018:

Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018 for the first time in its history. However, this was highly controversial because of their foreign policy and attitudes toward the LGBT community. Putin’s Russia invaded Ukraine and illegally occupied the Crimea region. Meanwhile, his repressive regime prevented any meaningful opposition from challenging him. Critics believed that the nation shouldn’t receive the chance to flaunt itself in front of the globe.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

The tournament went ahead and was a massive success. It was extremely entertaining and saw some brilliant displays from different teams. Also, Russia cracked down on its notorious soccer hooligans and prevented them from having a negative impact. Despite this, dissenting voices remained. They condemned FIFA because the governing body allowed Russia to sports wash its image.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. NBA Bubble (2020):

The global health crisis became the story of the world in 2020. It had a profound effect on the world of sport but some events plowed on. These included the NBA postseason. This was a controversial decision because there was also significant social unrest across the United States at the time. However, a decision was made to host the playoffs in Disney World in Florida.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Many players felt dubious because of personal health concerns. These related to their family members as well as themselves. In the end, the playoffs went ahead with relative smoothness. It was a massive operation that required hundreds of supporting personnel to stay on site. Players also faced restrictions about where they could go and who they could bring into the bubble.

Mandatory Credit: TalkSport

2. Qatar World Cup (2022):

Few sporting events in history are as controversial as the Qatar World Cup. It’s even crazier because it hasn’t even happened yet. This is a twisted tale of corruption and human rights abuse. When the news broke the tiny Middle Eastern nation would host soccer’s most prestigious tournament, fans were in disbelief. Qatar had no history of success in the sport and it was so hot that they rescheduled the tournament for winter.

Mandatory Credit: TalkSport

Meanwhile, the country lacked the infrastructure to host the games and had to build stadia from scratch. They hired a host of immigrant workers and endured severe criticism from human rights support groups for exploiting them. Furthermore, the majority of the FIFA committee, who handed the tournament to Qatar, received bans from the sport on charges of corruption. In sum, it stinks.

Mandatory Credit: Slate

1. Tokyo Olympics (2021):

This event was meant to be Japan’s moment in the spotlight. But instead, it became a major burden and the cause of intense division across the island nation. In short, the global health crisis forced Japan to defer the Olympics for one year. However, many citizens wanted their government to cancel the event because of a slow vaccine roll-out. They feared that it would become a superspreader event.

Mandatory Credit: Deadline

An incredible 30% of Japan’s population is over the age of 60 and vulnerable to the crisis. However, the Japanese government refused to cancel the Games because of the financial burden. Instead, they announced that they would take place in empty stadiums. The Games became even more controversial when athletes began to test positive. These included U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff, amongst others.

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