David Goldblatt on the Changing Nature of Global Sports


David Goldblatt is one of the leading experts on sports and soccer and has written numerous books including the ball is round a global history of soccer.  He spoke at Oxy about the crisis facing sports right now.  Despite sports enjoying a historical high point in terms of popularity it also faces a growing number of scandals and crises.

 
 
The 2014 Fifa world cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil or both prime examples of this.  Brazil’s decision to proceed with these events while in the midst of a financial crisis led to a massive backlash.  Visitors to the confederations cup in 2013 were greeted by anti-Fifa graffiti and the largest mass mobilization since the end of military rule.  These protest didn’t necessarily start as anti-FIFA or Anti Olympics, but these games gave the movements a central momentum.  Goldblatt argued that the Rio 2016 Olympics were the most shameful Olympics because of the enormous cost and broken promises along the way, and serve to illustrate some of the biggest problems facing sport.
 
Corruption and bad governance in leading institutions have been increasingly under the spotlight but remain an issue in these bodies.  The decision to award the Fifa world cup to Russia and Qatar respectively raise a serious question about corruption in these bodies.  Qatar is set to spend an absurd amount, by some estimates a quarter of a trillion dollars on the world cup and the potential for corruption is massive.  Russia's role in doping saw it facing bannings from the IOC, which raises questions about its suitability as a host of a major sporting event.
 
The global epidemic of doping is another issue that faces sports, and while there has been some progress, it may not be enough.  Russia was exposed as running a state-sponsored doping program, which raises the question of who else is?  Who can be believed anymore in sport?  These questions pose a serious threat to the legitimacy of sports in the future
 
There are some pressing issues that face global sports and must be addressed in order for events like the Olympics and the Fifa world cup to remain relevant and legitimate.