POSTED: December 30th 2015

NEIL WILSON: 2015 a year to be forgotten that may be repeated

Sepp Blatter was the most powerful man in football and is now banned for 8 years. His daughter Corinne documents his last press conference of 2015 / Getty
Sepp Blatter was the most powerful man in football and is now banned for 8 years. His daughter Corinne documents his last press conference of 2015 / Getty

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) So 2015 is at an end, and all who love sport should raise a glass to its passing, coupled with the wish that it is never repeated.

This was sport's annus horribilis, a year when events off the field dominated its headlines and rocked its foundations.

Sadly, the year cannot be remembered as any other year would be for the feats of Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, nor of Jordan Spieth, Chris Froome and Mo Farah. History will return to it as the year sport imploded, miring everybody associated in its filth.

Not many sports fans would have questioned the governance of sport 12 months ago. Never would have given it a thought. Men in blazers were a part of sport but not in its foreground.

Seems now that is where they liked to be, hidden from view and transparency while they wheeled and dealed to sport's cost.

Sepp Blatter was then the most powerful man in football, possibly in sport. Now he is suspended from all football for eight years. So is Michel Platini, Blatter's equivalent in the European context.

Beneath them the agencies of government, the FBI, the US Department of Justice and Swiss and French prosecutors have exposed a world-wide web of corruption. This week's arrests of two Mexican officials puts the total accused of abusing their positions into the forties. 

 Then there is Lamine Diack, athletic's global head 12 months ago and an honorary member of the IOC but now on bail in France on money laundering and bribery charges. His former legal advisor and the head of the IAAF's doping office face similar charges, its former honorary treasurer has resigned in disgrace and so have most senior officials in Russia connected with the sport.

To sport's continuing misfortune the chimes of midnight on December 31 will not wipe the slate clean. The poison will continue to flow into the New Year with a multitude of court cases and the publication of an apparently shocking review by Dick Pound into the IAAF.

Beyond that lies the Olympic Games in a country whose president may be impeached, where corruption is endemic and pollution of its water so appalling that Olympians' health may be threatened.

Perhaps of greater potential harm to sport's health in 2016 is the highest court in Germany, the Bundesgerichtshof. Sometime soon it must decide a case started by speed skater Claudia Pechstein that threatens sport's Court of Arbitration, the final arbiter of all things sporting created by the IOC.

A lower court in Germany decided that CAS is improperly set up, that it is fundamentally biased towards sport's ruling bodies.  If the Bundesgerichtshof takes the same view, the rush of cheating competitors and corrupt officials who follow Pechstein's example in taking to the courts to challenge CAS's decisions will resemble a mass start in a fun run.

Not only is FIFPro, football's international trade union, backing the case against CAS but so is Germany's federal police union! Nobody anymore it seems trusts any organisation created by sport's Blazers.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · Olympics · Neil Wilson

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