Of course, there is only so much the sympathetic words of athletes like American tennis star Andy Roddick can do. Respectful gestures, like the wearing of black armbands or the staging of a minute’s silence, are symbolic for the victims but offer no solution.
But then athletes, like the rest of us, are in an impossible situation when responding to national tragedies.
The bid by Grant Wahl to oppose Sepp Blatter in this year’s FIFA presidential election might seem like a humorous act of self-publicity by the Sports Illustrated magazine journalist, but it’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.
I’m not putting the battle for world football's top job on a par with the life and death struggle for democracy in the Middle East, but the tide of people power sweeping through countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya can’t help but inspire a “we can” mentality among some of us watching the drama unfold. FULL POST
To be the best you’ve got to beat the best, so the saying goes. But in professional boxing it seems to be the best you’ve only got to avoid the best.
There is no doubt that the Klitschko brothers are two of the biggest attractions in boxing right now. Wladimir holds the IBF and WBO heavyweight crowns, while Vitali is the WBC belt holder.
Each lays claim to being the world’s best heavyweight, though they will never fight each other to answer the question once and for all. That’s understandable, as fighting is obviously a hurting game and the fight would be a sham, because who wants to hurt their own flesh and blood?
As you may have seen on CNN recently, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, joined the debate on which is the best league in the world when he told my colleague, Pedro Pinto, that Spain must hold that unofficial title because it provided the most players for the FIFA team of the year and because Spain won the World Cup with home-based players.
He further indicated that while the English Premier League is the best marketed league in the world, it does not, in his opinion, have the best players or play the best football.
Millions of football fans will be happy to agree with Blatter’s assessment, and millions more will disagree. However, the fact is that, at present, we have no quantifiable way of knowing which league is the best.
It’s all conjecture based on subjectivity or, in the case of choosing the FIFA XI, pseudo statistics since the make-up of the team was arrived at by way of a vote not any kind empirical data.
The English Premier League may like to think it’s the biggest football league in the world, and certainly it spends the most money, but the 50,000 professional players, managers and journalists who voted for FIFA’s team of the year don’t appear to think it’s the best on the planet.
For the first time since the award was introduced, not one player from England’s top flight made the grade. Instead, the all-star team of 2010 featured six players from Barcelona, three from Inter Milan, with the other two coming from Real Madrid. Contrast that with last year, when the EPL provided five of the elite 11, and it would seem that its reputation has taken a bit of a bashing. FULL POST
CNN's World Sport will be broadcasting its predictions for 2011 in upcoming shows between December 31-January 2. In the third of a series of preview blogs, Terry Baddoo takes a look at the contenders for next year's Cricket World Cup.
On present form, I wouldn’t put much money on Australia claiming their fourth consecutive World Cup title next year. In fact, in their current state of mind it’s going to take a Herculean effort for the Aussies to even make a fist of it on the Indian sub-continent when the four-yearly event starts in late February.
At the time of writing, not only do they trail England in the Ashes series, but there seems to be a massive loss of confidence in their leadership, with serious questions being asked about skipper Ricky Ponting for the first time I can remember. But the one-day game is not Test cricket, and if it becomes a question of guts, you cannot rule the Aussies out - especially as they are still the top-ranked team in the 50-over format.
Just when we feared the old boys of FIFA might play it safe after “gambling” on fresh markets in 2010 with South Africa and then a long-awaited return to Brazil in 2014, they throw us for a loop and select two World Cup-hosting novices in Russia and Qatar. Brilliant!
During the months of wrangling over who said what to whom, and who asked who for what, it kind of got lost at times that the World Cup is a symbol of unity rather than an agent of divisiveness. But in choosing two first-timers to host, ruling body FIFA is reasserting the notion that football is a family in which each member at least has the opportunity to be an equal.
Russia’s choice as the host of the 2018 World Cup is perfectly logical. No country from the former Eastern Bloc has ever hosted a World Cup, and, though Russia/USSR has been present on the world football stage for many years, there’s still a feeling that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, economically speaking. As a result, FIFA, which takes the bulk of its revenue from the World Cup, was clearly not blind to the potential of another huge untapped market.
When Lebron James takes the court against the Cavaliers this week for his first game in Cleveland since his off-season move to the Miami Heat, he’ll likely face a level of abuse not seen in the NBA for decades.
His abdication as king of the Cavs was nothing short of treason as far as many Cleveland fans were concerned, and his departure, without delivering the championship he’d promised, was viewed as the ultimate act of desertion.
Of course, he’s not the first sportsman who’s become an instant pariah by moving to another club. In 2000, Luis Figo’s transfer to Real Madrid from Barcelona caused so much acrimony that the Portuguese footballer reportedly received death threats and had a severed pigs head thrown at him when he returned with Madrid to the Camp Nou for the "El Clasico" clash between the Spanish rivals.
FIFA’s guilty verdict against two of its top officials in the World Cup "cash for votes" scandal isn’t surprising. The case was reportedly so cut and dried that it would have been counter-productive for football's ruling body to be seen to protect its own. What is surprising, however, is that FIFA claims such righteous indignation that this kind of corruption exists within its ranks.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as they say, and FIFA has managed to carve itself a niche as the ultimate untouchable in the sporting world, even to the extent that it puts its own laws above those of actual governments by forbidding political interference in football matters under pain of expulsion for the guilty member country.
It's a brilliant idea - a league table for referees, with promotion and relegation at the end of each season so that the English Premier League gets the best-performing officials.
After reading about the proposition by Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, I was surprised to learn that there is no pecking order in terms of who gets what game, as it seems like I see Howard Webb on my television almost every time one of the big-four clubs takes the field.
However, according to the Professional Game Match Officials board, which looks after the referees, there is no such thing as a hierarchy among top-fight officials. Instead, a list of names for all matches is drawn from a select group that is sent out every Monday. So, technically, the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United do not get the best of the best every week.
At present, clubs and managers do get the opportunity to assess officials after every game, but Pulis wants to take it a step further by giving the clubs the chance to vote on officials at the end each season, with the lowest-ranked officials demoted to the Championship (the English second division) - from which the top refs would become their replacements.