The year 2020 was like no other.
After starting off very well, it slowly and surely descended into chaos, panic and tragedy.
Early this year, the COVID-19 pandemic shook the entire world to its very foundation and still date has disrupted the way we carry out daily activities.
Sports was not left out.
Football leagues were cancelled and others cut short, while major sporting competitions have been moved to 2021.
Yet, there was still enough for us to have a few controversies here and there.
OgeneAfrican brings you the top five in no particular order:
1. Novak Djokovic became a Covidiot: In the middle of the pandemic, World No.1 Novak Djokovic organized a charity tennis tournament, which eventually became a COVID hotspot. Djokovic and other stars tested positive after competing in the tournament, which attracted large crowds and had limited social distancing in place.
Djokovic, who bore the brunt of the widespread backlash, issued a public apology, saying in a statement he was “deeply sorry our tournament had caused harm.”
2. Lionel Messi fails to force his way out: Arguably the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi was at the centre of all debates last summer. The 33-year-old sent a burofax to Barcelona, expressing his desire to leave the club. However, the hierarchy of the LaLiga stood their ground and insisted the clause Messi was trying to trigger was invalid.
Messi eventually made a u-turn and stayed at the club, amid heavy links with Manchester City. The Argentine is now into the final six months of his current deal and has kept mum about his future so far.
3. Australia refused to take the knee: COVID-19 was not the only thing that went wrong in the world in 2020. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement became global, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Several sportsmen showed their public support for BLM by taking a knee before games.
Instead of taking a knee, the Australia cricket team instead opted to take off their shoes and form a ‘barefoot circle’ before the game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The decision led to criticism from Windies great Michael Holding.
4. Champions League marred by racism: A Champions League group stage fixture between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was marred by a racist incident. The game was suspended after the fourth official allegedly used a racial slur, targeted at Basaksehir assistant coach, Pierre Webo.
Webo claimed to have been referred to as a “negro”. It led to players walking off the pitch and UEFA having to change officials for the rescheduled game a day later.
PSG went on to beat the Turkish side 5-1 and qualified for the knockout stages.
5. VAR in football: The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) courted more controversy this year. Even since it was introduced in the major leagues, players, coaches and fans have questioned most of the decisions for and against their teams.
In several Champions League and Premier League fixtures in 2020, there were numerous questions raised over the use of technology. The questions remain even as the year draws to a close. Many point out that VAR is giving away soft penalties and fouls, while others say VAR is acting only on available proof.