Friday, June 13, 2014

Is sports corrupt?

Friday, June 13, 2014 - The Malay Mail

HAS money corrupted sports and killed its purity?
From the top sports associations like Fifa to the lesser known bodies, this menace has reared its ugly head.
Even fans are involved indirectly when they place bets with bookmakers.
This morning, arguably the world’s greatest sporting event — the Fifa World Cup — kicked off amidst speculation the outcome of some matches has already been decided.
Qatar’s alleged bribery to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup certainly does not augur well for football and sports in general.
A lot of athletes are involved in doping as well as bribery and sex scandals.
Sports officials have become so powerful they dictate terms in their national bodies.
Sports has indeed become terribly murky, but fans still support it wholeheartedly.
Just look at the numbers who have travelled to watch the World Cup in Brazil, some having spent their life savings to do so.
The bookmakers are rubbing their hands in glee as tickets for not only football but also other top events fl y off the counter.
Indeed, the number of viewers for Formula One and the Rugby World Cup continues to soar.
So, what is happening to the world of sports? Corruption is the antithesis of everything that sport stands for. Our sports heroes are supposed to be an antidote for all our disappointments in life, but are they?
Sports used to be our magic carpet to ride but today, all we do is sweep the ills under it.
However, we do have some genuine officials and athletes who are trying to uphold its good name.
But we may be fighting a losing battle because the ills and bad habits are creeping into the grassroots.
Sports is hailed as something that builds character and nurtures fair play, sportsmanship and healthy living in the young.
As long as this perception prevails, there is hope.
And maybe it is time more ex-sportsmen and women helm sports associations rather than people who parachute into them without any sporting background.
On the home front, the sports scene is replete with politicking, bickering and campaigning to remain in office or go on trips.
Even at the smaller associations, there are power struggles and wastage of funds via unnecessary seminars or meetings at luxury venues when the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s (OCM) building has adequate facilities at a minimal fee.
The culture of fighting for overseas trips is also creeping into OCM.
While there some officials who are known to return the allowances for meals and transport, there are others who fight for more money or business or first class air tickets, top accommodation, private cars, accreditation for family members and other perks.
Sports officials must be reminded that they were appointed to serve sports, not the other way around.
It is little wonder that sports in general in Malaysia has a long way to go before it can be professional.
After 57 years of independence, it is sad that Malaysian sports has not fully realised its true potential.
If the officials and athletes do not start to act professionally, there is no way Malaysian sports will amount to anything in the years to come.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports journalist
with more than three decades of
experience and is passionate about
local sports. He can be reached at
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

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