Corruption, scandals overshadow celebration in sports

FIFA corruptions and doping scandals mark this season in sports as well as celebrations for victory

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jan 1, 2016

In the 2014-15 season in sports, corruption hit world football's governing body FIFA which resulted in bans of several high-ranking officials due to money laundering allegations. Besides corruption scandals, several athletes were accused of doping ahead of competitions. Another amputee athlete was put under house arrest after mistakingly killing his girlfriend. Meanwhile, there were also heartbreaking incidents as well as glorious victories in football and basketball. As champions were celebrating their victories, two prominent figures of sports upset their fans.

FIFA corruption

The United States and Swiss authorities unveiled two separate corruption investigations into world football’s governing body FIFA. Swiss police detained seven FIFA officials including two vice presidents at a luxury Zurich hotel on charges of accepting more than $150 million in bribes.

The US authorities also arrested 14 people, including nine high-ranking FIFA officials facing up to 20 years in jail if found guilty. Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was given a lifetime ban from all football-related activities. Swiss police seized files and emails after raiding FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Meanwhile, due to corruption hitting the body, Sepp Blatter was re-elected as the president of FIFA for the fifth time since 1998 two days after the corruption probe opened. On the eve of the elections, protests erupted demanding Blatter’s step down and withdrawal from the elections.

Although Blatter announced in June that he would resign, he said that he did not and had no intention to resign from office. Swiss prosecutors launched an investigation against Blatter into a payment he authorised in 2011 to UEFA head Michel Platini for work done in 1999–2002.

Blatter denied allegations and his US attorney said that he was cooperating with the Swiss probe. Platini was also asked to give information about the accusations.

The pair had been suspended for 90 days in October. After Blatter’s ban, Platini announced himself as a candidate for FIFA presidency.

However, the Swiss authorities considered Platini as "between a witness and an accused person" in the corruption inquiry. Suspended Blatter and Platini were both banned from soccer for eight years by the Ethics Committee of FIFA.

Court rules five-year house arrest to Pistorius

A South African court ruled five years of house arrest in October 2015 after more than a year of jailtime to gold medalled amputee sprint runner Oscar Pistorius.

State prosecutors objected the court’s house arrest decision and argued that Pistorius should be convicted of a murder charge and be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Pistorius was convicted of murder due to killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 on Valentine’s day, he had said that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in the bathroom.

He was arrested and charged of murder but the court found him guilty not for murder but culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction. In Dec. 2015 the high court overturned the decision and convicted him of murder.

Athlete’s doping scandal in Russia

An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a report stating that Russian athletes used extensive, state-sanctioned doping during competitions. A WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory destroyed 1,417 samples prior to commission’s inspections.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that there was no evidence for the allegations against Russian Athletics Federation. The laboratory stopped working after WADA stripped its accreditation. The director of the laboratory resigned a day after he was accused of concealing positive doping tests and extorting money from athletes.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe said that he was shocked and surprised by the report which came after IAAF’s long-time chief Lamine Diack was accused by the IAAF of hiding a Russian athelete’s doping violations.

Russian athletes were also accused of blackmailing athletes suspected of doping. The IAAF suspended Russia from track and field sports after the doping allegations. The IAAF explained the consequences of the provisional suspension that "athletes and athlete support personnel from Russia may not compete in International Competitions including World Athletic Series competitions and the Olympic Games".

It meant Russia would not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup and 2016 World Junior Championship.

2014-15 NBA Champion “Golden State Warriors”

The Golden State Warriors won the 2014-15 NBA Finals for the first time in 40 years scoring 105-97 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors, won the best-of-seven championship series 4-2. Golden State's Andre Iguodala was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals, scoring 25 points in the last match.

Reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala paved the way for victory, each contributing 25 points. With the win, Golden State became the first NBA team to win a title behind a roster without any previous finals experience since the 1991 Chicago Bulls. The Warriors also won their 28th straight regular season game dating back to last season.

Kobe Bryant to retire after season ends

The 37-year-old five-time champion Kobe Bryant announced that he would retire after the 2015-16 NBA season. He explained the reason saying that his body can no longer handle the rigours of professional basketball. Bryant was one of the greatest clutch players in history who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant has averaged 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists over 1,280 games. Bryant said that one of the things he was hoping to do after this season was to make films and documentaries like the one he recently made called "Kobe Bryant's Muse." Bryant's final game would be at home against Utah on April 13.

FC Chelsea sacked Mourinho before deal ended

2014-15 season English Premier League Champion FC Chelsea sacked on December 17 “The Special One” nicknamed Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho after having a four year deal with the club. The club’s decision came after Mourinho’s miserable start to the new season, with just 15 points in 16 matches with nine defeats.

52-year-old Mourinho will be paid $372K-a-week salary for 3.5 years or until he finds another job. The Special One managed the FC Chelsea twice, in which the first period was from 2004 to 2008 year and he returned in June 10, 2013 for the second time after managing FC Real Madrid.

FC Barcelona won Champions League title

FC Barcelona won UEFA Champions League cup for the fifth time in its history. The Catalan team beat Italian Juventus 3-1 goals by Rakitic, Suarez and Neymar. Juve’s goal came with Morata. Former Barcelona football player and now manager for the same club, Luis Enrique was the manager for the first season in FCB. His first experience as manager resulted in the FCB winning the cup.

FCB’s South American trio of Suarez, Neymar and Messi, showed a spectacular performance in the match. The match finished with the goal of Brazilian Neymar at the last minute. After losing the game, Juventus’ 36-year-old Andrea Pirlo broke into tears.