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10th February 2014

2014: A year of sporting disasters waiting to happen

Andrew Georgeson looks at the year ahead for sport

Happy New Year. As the last of half priced Bucks Fizz and Shortbread biscuits are being bought from Harrods, and we all write 2013, before hastily scribbling it out to 2014, a nightmare for someone as meticulous with notes as myself, the sporting world picks up where it left off.

Unfortunately that means the same old racist, misogynistic, homophobic mess it was before we heralded in this New Year.

2013 was a good year for sports, was it not? We had a grown man bite another man in a Premier League game before returning like the prodigal son and a trigger-happy owner of a particular South-Wales club, to name a few atrocities.

This year, although things are looking worse, will hopefully start a revolution. Hopefully the corrupt bodies that run our sports will be left with serious questions to answer, and when their answers are insufficient, we can get rid of them like the bigoted bureaucrats they are.

 Hopefully people can see that the institutions that propose all these ethics don’t even attribute to them themselves.

Let’s start chronologically and go to Sochi 2014. As much as it pains me to say, I disagree with Stephen Fry on whether we should compete. We definitely should because we can’t leave our LGBTQ brothers and sisters alone. My argument is, Russia should not have been handed the games in the first place. I can’t see why the IOC wouldn’t have looked into human rights in Russia before this. It has been well established they have incredibly harsh lines on anything that wanes slightly from Orthodoxy.

I suppose this is the same committee that didn’t see anything wrong with the 1936 Summer Games, either.

Why international organizations insist on giving countries with extreme political agendas sporting events baffles me. The IOC could counter that it is simply for the greater good, spreading sport worldwide. But politics defeats sport. The LGBT activists, who have been beaten, jailed, harassed, aren’t going to care that a countryman or women won a gold medal.

Russia’s farcical attempt to gain face before the games is nothing more than Putin papering over cracks. The release of political prisoners Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists branded ‘pirates’ show how far the country has to come.

The constant reassurance that homosexual’s can come to the games as long as they don’t spread their ‘homosexual propaganda’ or ‘impose their views on others’ is ridiculous. So ridiculous that the government hasn’t even came out to explain what ‘homosexual propaganda’ comprises of.

But not to worry, I’m sure that no other sporting organization will make the same mistake

Oh, wait.

Welcome Sepp Blatter to the stage. FIFA have seemed to try their upmost to make sure that the next three World Cups will be shrouded in controversy.

Starting in Brazil this year.

Although Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is regarded as the ‘spiritual’ home of football, one has to question whether they could really handle of enormity of building the infrastructure of a World Cup and an Olympic Games in such quick succession.

Many of the stadiums are chronically behind on schedule. Particularly the stadium in the city of Curitiba that is facing severe questioning over whether or not it will be ready for the competition, and next week the stadium could be abandoned on orders of FIFA. The stadium which is supposed to hold the competition opener in mid-June had a disastrous accident in late November which saw two workers tragically loose their lives and also the stadium deadline be pushed back even further.

Even FIFA, often accused of ‘cozy-ing’ up to politicians has had to speak out. This came after building pressure from workers complaining over conditions after an un-tethered worker fell to his death working on the roof the a stadium, and expected protests as 80 per cent of the bill of the tournament, expected to be in the billions of dollars is being footed by public money.

More damming is that the money from the public was also supposed to support the infrastructure of the local area, not simply the stadiums. Many of these plans have since been cancelled.

But in a strange Twilight Zone-esque twist of fate, the next Olympic games will be in Rio and the next FIFA World Cup is in Russia.

Moving onto the 2022 tournament in Qatar. The problems with this tournament have been well documented as it is becoming increasingly obvious that the tournament will have disastrous effects on the European football calendar. The problems with this tournament are an amalgamation of the two previous examples. First of all there have already been accusations of slave labor to build the stadium, secondly they are an extremely conservative nation. Conservatism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but problems will start in an alcohol-free nation when three lads from Leeds get rowdy.

Sports shouldn’t be confined to the West, it’s impertinent to say that. We have seen in the past that nations such as Greece have had problems completing stadia in the past. But it is equally as impertinent to suggest that there aren’t huge socio-economic reasons why other nations should have won the games instead. I have no doubts that the 2022 World Cup will be a hell of a show, but you can build all the human-anatomy shaped stadiums you like, if football fans get arrested for being football fans and players pass out from heat exhaustion, could it be considered a success?

Realistically, I would like to think these tournaments would show that it’s very much a case of who you know, than what you can offer. But in reality, once the drums are banging, and the girls are dancing in Brazil, the sounds of the protesters will be drowned out, and the blood on the stadiums will be washed off.

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