From football to hockey and athletics, all sports adhere to a strict code of ethics on and off the pitch. However, like any other event that requires the participation of human beings and money is involved, scandals are unavoidable. Sports scandals often involve cheating among players with the aim of financial gain. Sometimes, these scandals revolve around relationships between athletes and themselves or the public. Here is a quick compilation of the biggest sports scandals of all time.

1. Argentina’s Match Fixing During the 1978 World Cup

Argentina is the most recent men’s football/soccer World Cup winner. However, that wasn’t their first; their debut World Cup win came in 1978 and was surrounded by much controversy. After defeating Peru 6-0 in the semi-finals, Ramon Quiroga, the goalkeeper of the Peru national team, was accused of bribing some Peru players to dictate the outcome.

Ramon Quiroga was born in Argentina, so the connection is there. Although the claims were confirmed by a Peruvian senator who mentioned that there was a deal between the two governments, the shot-stopper strongly refuted them. In the agreement, Peru would let Argentina win in exchange for money, political prisoners, and food.

2. Hansie Cronje Paid Off by Bookmakers

In 2000, the South African cricket team captain, Hansie Cronje, admitted being paid off by bookmakers to affect game results. He mentioned that he had received thousands of dollars from betting companies to lower team morale and even play poorly. For his troubles, Hansie Cronje was banned for life by the national cricket team before dying in a mysterious plane crash in 2002. It is believed that the cartel of bookmarkers killed him.

3. Operation Flagrant Foul

An NBA referee named Tim Donaghy was involved in a massive scandal in 2007. In a stint called “Operation Flagrant Foul“, by the FBI, Tim Donaghy was accused of betting on NBA games that he was officiating. Tim would referee the game in his favor while using insider information from coaches and players. The FBI also suspected Tim of being in cahoots with the New York Mafia. He admitted to the charges and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The NBA, however, had to change some of its policies.

4. Olympique de Marseille Winning the 1993 UEFA Champions League Through Bribes

The UEFA Champions League is a superior competition that brings the best club teams from all over Europe. However, the UEFA organization hasn’t been free of scandals. In 1993, Olympique de Marseille won the UEFA Champions League in the final match with Valenciennes, but the result’s credibility was questioned.

The President of Olympique de Marseille had bribed several players from Valenciennes as he had been doing throughout the French League that season. Even though they retained the UEFA title, they were stripped of the French League title, and the team was relegated. Olympique de Marseille was also banned from playing in the coming UEFA.

5. Tiger Woods Affairs

Sports scandals aren’t all about match-fixing and illegal gambling. In 2009, Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golf players, was involved in a car accident at 2:30 am. Unfortunately, the accident unearthed numerous past affairs that the renowned golfer had. Tiger Woods admitted to having more than 100 affairs, which led to the divorce from his wife, Elin Nordegren.

Cheating on a spouse is not illegal in sports, but because it involved Tiger Woods, it turned into a huge scandal that was popularized by the media. He paid his wife millions in divorce settlements and lost a lot of endorsements from many brands. Not to mention his reputation that was severely tainted.

6. Kobe Bryant’s Sexual Assault Accusations

While staying in a hotel in Colorado, the famous basketball athlete was put in the middle of a massive sexual assault scandal. A 19-year-old woman with whom he was sharing the hotel room accused Kobe of sexually assaulting her. Even though she dropped the charges later, Kobe suffered a significant setback from the proceedings. His wife was furious at him, and he lost multiple sponsors.

7. New Orleans Saints Paid Players to Injure Opponents

The New Orleans Saints coaching staff was involved in a scandal in 2010 where they were accused of paying players to injure opponents. This scandal was triggered by an anonymous tip later discovered to be Mike Cerullo, who had been recently fired.

Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator, had masterminded this plot and was supported by Coach Sean Payton. After the NFL was made aware of this scandal, all Saints received a half-million dollar fine, and they were not part of the 2012-2013 draft picks. Gregg and Payton were suspended.

8. FIFA “Sold” World Cup Venues

Despite being a respected body, FIFA has witnessed numerous scandals throughout history. For instance, 14 FIFA officials were indicted for allegedly selling the World Cup hosting rights to Qatar. There were also charges that FIFA had acquired $10 million for giving the World Cup bid to South Africa in 2010. FBI is also investigating a $40 million bribe from an unknown sports company to FIFA with the intent of sponsoring the Brazil National Team.

9. The Story of OJ Simpson

NFL player OJ Simpson was America’s sweetheart. Well, that was before he was accused of killing his wife, Nicole Simpson, and Ronald Goldman. That wasn’t all. A suicide note was found with the two bodies, and the police had to pursue OJ on live TV with several helicopters and tens of police cars. Even though he was talked out of suicide by an LAPD detective, OJ Simpson’s reputation had been tarnished. He was acquitted and paid $40 million to the two families.

10. Russia’s State-Sponsored Doping Scheme

During the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia was found guilty of planning and executing a state-sponsored doping scheme. This led to a 4-year ban on Russia from all sporting events. German broadcaster ARD brought the world’s attention to this doping scheme, and according to this media company, Russia started these initiatives in 2012.

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Last Update: May 30, 2024