Sports Controversies in 2018: From Cristiano Ronaldo Rape Case to Mesut Ozil Racism Row, Here’s a Look at the Incidents That Rocked Sports World This Year!
File picture of Ronaldo, Serena and Ozil (Photos: Getty Images)

Controversies continued to plague the world of sports in 2018 with several athletes finding themselves in the eye of the storm. While their exploits in their respective games are well known but controversies bring their other side into the public domain, one they will want to avoid. Let us look at some of the contentious issues related to sports stars that got a lot of media attention. Year-End Special: From Davide Astori to Luis Valbuena, Here’s the List of Sports Stars Who Died in 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo rape case: Juventus and Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was accused of rape by an American national Kathryn Mayorga, 34 at a nightclub Las Vegas when she was 25. There were also reports of Ronaldo’s legal team paying the women in question paying her 375k dollars in order to prevent her from approaching the police. The Juventus forward vehemently denied the allegation on social media but the entire episode was a huge setback for Cristiano Ronaldo with images of him with the women circulated in the media. With each passing day, the situation got a little murkier with more women claiming of sexual assault by one of game’s greatest ever players. Towards the end of November, there were no further developments in these stories.

Serena Williams and her outburst at US Open Final: Tennis star Serena Williams completely lost it at the US Open final after match referee Carlos Ramos adjudged her of violations ranging from coach signal to conduct. In a furious rant aimed at the official, she accused him of being a thief. The entire incident shocked onlookers as Serena lost the game to Japanese Naomi Osaka. At the closing ceremony, the crowd booed with every opportunity available as the whole flashpoint made it a Serena versus official match rather than a grand slam final. There was divided opinion on Serena's conduct with many considering her actions justified while some labeling it as a disgrace. Her actions were also seen as an act of rebellion against sexism in the game.

Hima Das AFI tweet controversy: A tweet by the Athletics Federation of India highlighting the lack of fluency of ace athlete Hima Das cause a lot of furore amongst the public as they slammed the federation over the uncalled tweet. Das, who had just won the semi-final race at the IAAF Championships was speaking to media in English which was considered important for the AFI to mention in their tweet sent out. They quickly issued an apology looking at the huge backlash it had generated. Hima Das herself downplayed the entire incident and spoke about the need to focus on the game.

Mesut Ozil racism row: After Germany crashed out of the 2018 World Cup ingloriously in the first round, Mesut Ozil quit international football citing the disrespect meted out to him for his Turkish roots. In a post on social media, the Arsenal midfielder spoke about the pain he has endured ever since Germany were knocked out of the World Cup. The threats and abuses he received blaming him for teams poor performances with references made to his picture with Turkish President left him shocked and he announced his retirement. Mesut Ozil made 92 appearances for Germany and was an integral member of the team that won the 2014 World Cup in Germany. AFC Asian Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup and Other Top Sporting Events to Look Forward to in 2019

Ada Hegerberg and the twerk comment: Imagine winning the Ballon D’ Or award and the first thing you are asked is if you could twerk. This is exactly what happened with Norwegian player Ada Hegerberg when she won Europe’s biggest football prize for helping her team Lyon win the Champions League at an event in Paris. French DJ Martin Solveig’s question clearly embarrassed the young footballer as she said no but the incident had quickly snowballed into a controversy. The co-host apologised for his words after the awards but the damage had been done by his sexist question. The first women Ballon d'Or event was overshadowed by this unfortunate ‘twerk’ comment that left everyone sulking.

Sergio Ramos injures Mohammad Salah: In the first half of Liverpool versus Real Madrid UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Mohammad Salah and Sergio Ramos got into an entangle that left the Egyptian forward withering in pain. Shortly afterward, the 2017-18 EPL top scorer left the pitch in discomfort as his match came to a premature end. Liverpool went on to lose the game and cup 3-1 with the Reds fan accusing the Spanish skipper of deliberately hurting Salah.

Australian Cricket team’s Sandpaper Gate: Three Australian cricketers – Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft were banned from the game after video footage emerged of batsman Bancroft tampering with the ball using sandpaper and after his cheating came to light, he appeared to hide the object. The next day in a press conference Steve Smith admitted it was a planned decision to alter the condition of the ball and it was only him, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft who were in the know-how of it. The disgraced trio’s action drew widespread criticism of Australian cricket and that led to them being banned. Cricket Controversies in 2018: From Virat Kohli's 'Leave India' Comment to Steve Smith's Ball-Tampering Scandal, Here Are All Incidents That Rocked Gentleman's Game This Year!

Gourav Mukhi banned by AIFF: When Gourav Mukhi scored a goal coming on a sub against Bengaluru FC for his club FC Jamshedpur, he became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the ISL at 16 years of age. But things quickly turned sour for this entire fairy tale story of a young promising footballer emerging from the league as AIFF found out the player was overage. Through independent investigation, it was confirmed the player was 29 and that he regularly submitted wrong age proofs at various levels. He was banned by the organisation for 6 months and it is highly likely he will never play the sports professionally again.

Bajrang Punia threatening to take Khel Ratna to court: Players being ignored for awards is not a new phenomenon in India but wrestler Bajrang Punia was so miffed at being not given the Khel Ratna, he threatened to take the award committee to the court. The highly decorated wrestler was livid with Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli being preferred over him for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and questioned the criteria behind the selection. He met sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to put forward his points but ultimately did not go ahead with his case.

These were some of the big talking points from the world of sports that had people engrossed to its day to day developments. We hope the year 2019 is free from such controversies and that there is much more positive news.