★ The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★
★ Enjoying our coverage? If so, please consider a donation to help cover technical costs for 2023. Thank you for your support. ★
★ To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here! ★
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Brazil looks like Brazil in 4-1 romp while Croatia wins on penalties
2. U.S. vs. Netherlands draws 16.55 million viewers combined
3. IOC could invite more than one bidder for “targeted dialogue” for 2030
4. Roy Jones, Jr. leads demonstration for boxing’s 2028 inclusion
5. Int’l Testing Agency closes London 2012 re-tests, adding 73 positives.
The FIFA World Cup completed its third day of four in the Round of 16, with Brazil looking unstoppable in a 4-1 win over South Korea and Croatia edging Japan on penalty kicks (3-1) after a 1-1 tie. FIFA’s disciplinary group opened an inquiry into possible sanctions for the Uruguayan federation and four of its players after they accosted match officials at the conclusion of their final group-stage match against Ghana. The U.S. men’s team loss to the Netherlands on Saturday drew an American audience – in English and Spanish combined – of 16.55 million on FOX and Telemundo, second only to the U.S.-England match. The International Olympic Committee’s staff director for the Olympic Games said that more than one bidder for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games could be invited to the “targeted dialogue” phase, a departure from the process used for the selection of 2032 Olympic host Brisbane. A group of 100-plus demonstrators assembled in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne on Monday, led by former pro boxing champion Roy Jones, Jr., to urge inclusion of boxing in the 2028 Olympic program in Los Angeles; the International Boxing Association made no claim of responsibility for the event. The International Testing Agency announced the closure of its re-testing of samples from the London 2012 Olympic Games, in which 73 positives were uncovered and 31 medals withdrawn, the most of any Olympic Games in history.
Brazil looks like Brazil in 4-1 romp while Croatia wins on penalties
The FIFA World Cup Round-of-16 matches on Monday saw the exit of the last Asian teams in the tournament, as Japan lost on penalty kicks vs. Croatia and Brazil out-classed South Korea, 4-1.
The results give Europe at least five of the quarterfinalists with a possible sixth available on Tuesday as Portugal plays a surprising and skilled Morocco team. The final Round-of-16 match will be an all-European affair between Portugal and Switzerland.
South America has two of the final eight, with Argentina and Brazil qualifying decisively, with the Brazilians looking brilliant in a 4-0 first-half display, then settling for a 4-1 final.
Friday’s quarterfinals are now set, with the Netherlands facing Argentina and Croatia vs. Brazil. England will play France in one quarterfinal on Saturday. The semifinals will be on 13-14 December and the championship match on the 18th (Sunday).
The FIFA disciplinary folks are busy, informing the Uruguayan Football Association that it and four of its players are being investigated for violations of FIFA’s fair-play rules.
At the conclusion of the final group-stage match between Uruguay and Ghana – won by Uruguay, 2-0, but insufficient to advance them to the elimination rounds, referee Daniel Siebert (GER) was hounded by Uruguayan players furious that a penalty was not awarded for a Ghanian foul late in the match.
The behavior of defender Jose Gimenez, striker Edinson Cavani, keeper Fernando Muslera and defender Diego Godin is being reviewed, especially for surrounding Siebert and the assistant referees as they walked off the field.
Further, the Uruguayan federation will be subject to sanction relating to FIFA Disciplinary Code Article 11 (offensive behavior and violation of the principles of fair play), Article 12 (improper conduct of players and officials) and Article 13 (discrimination). The actions of the four players will be reviewed for violations of Articles 11 and 12.
It was also reported that FIFA is reviewing Serbian behavior relating to “incidents” in its 3-2 loss to the Swiss in the final Group G game. The specifics were not, as usual, specified, but in-match announcements asked fans to “stop all discriminatory chants and gestures.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) promised that the organization would work to continue the labor reforms achieved in Qatar and met with International Labor Organisation Director-General Gilbert Houngbo (TOG) on Sunday. Said Infantino:
“We have been engaging with the ILO for a number of years and we want to make sure our fruitful cooperation will continue in the future. The strengthening of the relation of FIFA and the ILO is also part of the legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2022, namely via the Legacy Fund that we will create, and which will be dedicated to workers throughout the world.”
A Memorandum of Understanding between FIFA and the ILO is anticipated, setting out the nature of their cooperation going forward.
U.S. vs. Netherlands draws 16.55 million viewers combined
Strong viewing of the Round-of-16 match between the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Dutch on Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern time, with 16.55 million watching in either English or Spanish, on television on streaming:
● FOX reported 12.966 million watching or streaming in English, including 596,850 (4.6%) on its streaming services.
● Telemundo’s Spanish-language coverage of the game drew a total audience of 3.58 million.
The total of 16.546 million is the second-most for a U.S. match at this World Cup:
1. 20.091 million on 25 Nov.: U.S. vs. England
2. 16.546 million on 03 Dec.: U.S. vs. Netherlands
3. 15.513 million on 29 Nov.: U.S. vs. Iran
4. 11.161 million on 21 Nov.: U.S. vs. Wales
The top U.S. markets for FOX were Cincinnati, St. Louis, Washington, D.C.. Kansas City and Austin. More information on how the U.S. men’s game stacked up against other weekend sports offerings will be available later in the week.
The Associated Press reported that the in-person attendance for Saturday’s Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase game at London’s O2 Arena between Michigan and Kentucky – won by Kentucky, 73-69, with a Maine-Marist game held earlier – was held down due to a timing clash with England playing Senegal in the Round of 16.
John Doleva, President of the Basketball Hall of Fame said “Two years ago, we were supposed to be here” – but had to postpone due to the pandemic – “and now the World Cup. We’ve certainly had our hurdles.”
Michigan coach Juwan Howard said, “I’m sure a lot of folks were at home or in pubs watching the football match. Overall, it would have been great if we had could have had more fans.”
Not when England is playing!
IOC could invite more than one bidder for “targeted dialogue” for 2030
The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Director for the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi (SUI) threw a curveball into the selection process for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, being sought by Sapporo, Salt Lake City and Vancouver, during a Monday news conference after the first day of the IOC’s Executive Board meeting:
“You can have more than one [bid] starting with the targeted dialogue, you can then have different options going into the Session. This process is really designed for the parties to look into the projects, into minute details every step of the way.”
This would be a change from the process used for the 2023 Olympic Games, where Brisbane (AUS) was the only bidder asked to essentially work with the IOC to complete a Host City Agreement and be named as the host. Dubi continued:
“The targeted dialogue, between now and then, mostly it’s about the guarantees, and you know, sometimes, the guarantees prove extremely hard to assemble, in which case it can be one of the city deciding that they don’t wish to continue, or it can be, indeed, a decision by the IOC as well prior to a submission to the Session.
“So here, really, everything is open, but it is indeed an option to have more than one going into targeted dialogue and then once it’s unfolding, the result is then a proposal from the [Executive Board] to the Session.”
This is a reference to Vancouver’s situation, in which the Province of British Columbia – and therefore, the federal government – have declined to provide support for the Games project. More details were not available, since the Future Hosts Commission will be reporting on Tuesday about its view of the current situation.
But it opens the possibility for Sapporo and Salt Lake City to both be asked for further work, and even the option of a competitive vote in the 2023 Session next fall in India.
Dubi was also positive about the Paris 2024 update given on Monday, saying “It was a very solid report from Paris today that we heard.”
He further noted that the budget exercise for Paris continues to look for savings, including tweaking the dates of venue availability for training. The organizing committee’s projected revenue totals appear to be moving higher than projected, which will allow for some flexibility.
The final struggle over venues appears to also be over, with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) giving provisional approval to the use of the multi-use Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille for preliminary matches, subject to further engineering on climate controls.
Roy Jones, Jr. leads demonstration for boxing’s 2028 inclusion
Continuing a strategy to play offense rather than defend, Seoul 1988 Olympic Light Middleweight silver medalist Roy Jones, Jr. organized a demonstration in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne on Monday to urge the IOC to include boxing in the 2028 Olympic program.
Jones, a dual American and Russian citizen, circulated an announcement on the rally, which included:
“A peaceful demonstration under the motto ‘No Olympics without boxing, No boxing without IBA’ took place today in Lausanne. The powerful crowd led by Roy Jones Jr was chanting in front of the Maison Olympique.
“More than 100 boxers and coaches from six countries took part in the demonstration. In addition to Switzerland and neighbouring Germany and France, Poland, Malta and Israel came to Lausanne to support the sport of boxing.”
Jones said, “I addressed the IOC in my [October] letter, but received no reply. Then I came to their doors and I knocked. I’ll do whatever it takes as my next steps to be heard. Boxing should remain at the Olympics, and I’ll do everything for it. It’s high time we stopped injustice.”
The International Boxing Association claimed no relationship to the event, saying in a post, “The International Boxing Association (IBA) acknowledges and gives its appreciation to the boxers and coaches from six countries who took part in a peaceful demonstration in front of the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne.”
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said during the news conference:
“Yes, there was a demonstration today outside, by supporters of IBA. And we heard their concerns; we had a team [that] went down; in fact, I think they were even invited into the offices and we had a discussion, a very constructive discussion, we heard what they had to say.”
The Executive Board did not discuss the situation of current 2028 outsiders boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting on Monday, but is scheduled to do so later.
Int’l Testing Agency closes London 2012 re-tests, adding 73 positives
At the close of the London 2012 Olympic Games, a modest total of nine anti-doping violations had been registered. In the 10 years since, however, a comprehensive re-test program conducted by the International Testing Agency found 73 additional violations for a total of 82, the most ever in a single Olympic Games.
On Monday, the ITA announced:
“The ITA has now finalised the re-analysis program for London 2012, the most comprehensive of its kind for an edition of the Olympic Games. Ensuring that the program was led efficiently and intelligently, samples were selected according to an extensive risk assessment that considered a variety of determinants, including the physiology of the respective sports, individual factors pertaining to athletes as well as country risk levels and any accessible information stemming from investigations. Based on these risk criteria, a total number of 2’727 samples were re-analysed.”
The 73 additional positives led to the “withdrawal” of 31 medals won by dopers (8-14-9) in weightlifting (18), athletics (10), wrestling (2) and canoeing (1). The changes in results caused the re-allocation of 46 medals (8-16-22), in the same four sports. Beyond these sports, there were also single additional doping violations in cycling, rowing, swimming and volleyball.
The countries implicated in the added doping positives included Russia (21), Belarus (11), Ukraine (7), Kazakhstan and Turkey (5), Romania (4), Armenia and Azerbaijan (3), Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova and Uzbekistan (2 each) and one each for Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia. Of the added 73 positives, 58 were from former republics of the USSR.
Interestingly, in the re-analysis program, the most-tested athlete samples came from the U.S., with 230 (no positives), followed by Russia (216), Great Britain (174; no positives), China (155; no positives) and Australia (122; no positives),
The most re-tested sports were athletics (540), aquatics (483) and cycling (170). Weightlifting produced a staggering 36 positives in 135 re-tests!
The ITA is now focused on re-tests from the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, and will then move on to Rio 2016 re-tests.
≡ FIFA WORLD CUP ≡
● Croatia 1, Japan 1 (Croatia wins on penalties, 3-1) ● Japan had come from behind in both of its group-stage wins, but flipped the script this time by going up, 1-0, in the 43rd minute on Monday. Forward Ritsu Doan sent a long pass from the right side into the box, where it was volleyed off the head of defender Maya Yoshida, then off defender Josko Gvardiol and landed at the feet of Daizen Maeda, who scored with the left foot past Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic.
But the game was tied in the second half, as defender Dejan Lovren sent a long cross from the right side of the field to the middle of the box, where it was headed – with authority – by forward Ivan Perisic into the far right corner of the goal for a 1-1 tie in the 55th.
Both teams had chances, but the game became more and more static as extra time approached. And in the extra 30 minutes, there were only a couple of meaningful chances, and the game went to penalties. Croatia ended with 58% possession and up 17-13 on shots.
Croatia, which won its Round of 16 and quarterfinal games at the 2018 World Cup on penalties, was more than ready, as Livakovic saved the first penalty try from forward Takumi Minamino, and the second from midfielder Kaoru Mitoma, both low shots that he could get to with his body. Meanwhile, midfielder Nikola Vlasic and midfielder Marcelo Brozovic both scored for a 2-0 advantage. Striker Takuma Asano scored on Japan’s third try and sub strriker Marko Livaja missed, but another Livakovic save on another low ball from Yoshida allowed sub forward Mario Pasalic to end it and he did, for a 3-1 win on penalties.
Of the four Croatian penalty takers, three were substitutes. On to the quarters. Japan failed, for the fourth time, to advance beyond the Round of 16.
● Brazil 4, South Korea 1 ● The favored Brazilians only scored three goals in their three group-stage matches, but they were on fire from the start against the Koreans.
The first strike came in the seventh minute, as Raphinia crossed from the right endline through the middle – past two Brazilians running to goal – and found striker Vinicius Junior, who had the time line up and drill a right-footed laser into the goal.
A few minutes later, Brazil’s Richarlison was fouled while trying to win the ball in the box, resulting in a penalty. It was Neymar, back from missing two games with an ankle injury, who stutter-stepped and then rolled the ball into the right side of the net for a 2-0 edge in the 13th.
In the 29th, Richarlison brought down a ball outside the box with three head taps and then a pass to maintain possession to defender Marquinhos. He moved it to the top of the box to defender Thiago Silva, who found a streaking Richarlison, cutting in front of the goal and sending a left-footed shot into the far left corner; 3-0. That was special.
The fourth goal came in the 36th, as another Brazilian break saw Vinicius Junior drive down the left side and into the box, then pop a pass backwards to the oncoming midfielder Lucas Paqueta, who sent a right-footed shot bounding into the Korean goal.
The half ended at 4-0, with Brazil holding 57% of possession, but a 10-4 lead on shots and a 4-0 lead on samba dances after goals. Korea had only a couple of chances, the best being Hee-chan Hwang’s curling blast from outside the box in the 17th that was saved – at full extension – by Brazilian keeper Alisson.
The second half started with a great Korean chance in the 47th, as striker Heung-min Son sent a blast from the left side that was knocked away by Alisson’s shoulder. Brazil maintained control, but Korea swarmed the Brazilian goal in the 68th, but could not score on a Hwang shot, then finally got a goal on a powerful strike from on top of the box from midfielder Seung-ho Paik that ran to the far right of the goal in the 76th.
Brazil ended with 57% possession and an 18-8 edge on shots. It was Brazil’s eighth straight Round-of-16 win, but will face a very difficult test against Croatia in the quarters.
The last of the Round of 16 games come on Tuesday, with Morocco vs. Spain and Portugal vs. Switzerland:
Game 7: 10 a.m. Eastern time:
● Morocco (Group F-1): 2-0-1 ~ goals: 4-1
● Spain (Group E-2): 1-1-1 ~ goals: 9-3
Asia’s three teams have been eliminated from the tournament and Morocco is the last African team remaining, coming to the Round of 16 as the surprise winners of Group F. It’s the fifth World Cup for Moroccans, who are 0-1 in Round of 16 games, having lost, 1-0, to West Germany in 1974. Spain, the 2010 champions, lost to Japan, 2-1, and had to settle for second in its group, but produced seven goals against Costa Rica in its opener. This is the 12th straight World Cup for Spain and in that run, are 4-3 in Round of 16 games and have not won once since taking the World Cup title in 2010.
The two teams did meet in the group stage in Russia in 2018, a 2-2 tie.
Game 8: 2 p.m. Eastern time:
● Portugal (Group H-1): 2-1 ~ goals: 6-4
● Switzerland (Group G-2): 2-1 ~ goals: 4-3
Portugal has participated in six straight World Cups, but is only 1-2 in Round of 16 match-ups in 2006 (won), 2010 (lost) and 2018 (lost). The Portuguese scored three goals against Ghana, then two against Uruguay and one vs. South Korea, so the trend is downwards. The Swiss are typically stingy, beating Cameroon, 1-0, losing to Brazil, 1-0, and then going crazy against Serbia to win, 3-2. The two sides have never met at the World Cup; Switzerland has not progressed past this round since making the quarterfinals in 1954, and it 0-4 in Round of 16 games. But the last three were close: on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 2006, 0-1 in 2014 and 0-1 in 2018.
The tournament will take its first days off this week, with two quarterfinals each on Friday and Saturday.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● World Athletics announced that World Champions Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone of the U.S. were its World Athletes of the Year.
Both won world titles and set world records during 2022: Duplantis in the men’s vault and McLaughlin-Levrone in women’s 400 m hurdles.
The Rising Stars awards were given to Serbian javelin thrower Adriana Vilagos and US sprinter Erriyon Knighton. Vilagos won her second World U-20 Championships gold and then a silver at the 2022 European Championships, while Knighton set a World U20 record of 19.69 in the 200 m and was the Worlds 200 m bronze medalist.
The International Fair Play Committee’s Fair Play Award was given to vaulters Holly Bradshaw (GBR and Tokyo bronze medalist) and eventual winner (and Tokyo Olympic champ) Katie Nageotte of the U.S.:
“Bradshaw injured herself after her pole snapped during the pole vault warm-up session. Her fellow competitor Nageotte immediately went over to support her. Knowing she would no longer be able to contend for a place in the final, Bradshaw withdrew from the competition, thus allowing another athlete to advance. Bradshaw received a lot of abuse on social media for withdrawing, but Nageotte again offered support by taking to Twitter in defence of her competitor.”
At the USA Track & Field Annual Meeting in Florida over the weekend, former world triple jumper record holder Willie Banks was re-elected as the federation’s nominee to the World Athletics Council.
Banks’ profile within World Athletics has been rising and he chaired the federation’s development team on its long-range plans.
A four-year fight over the role of the USATF Board vs. its membership was settled – at least for now – by the passage of a compromise package of by-laws which are designed to allow the Board to manage the day-to-day business operations and the membership to retain authority over matters which impact them directly.
USATF announced awards for the best World Championships track performer to 400 m hurdles world-record holder McLaughlin-Levrone, for the best Worlds field performer to vault winner Nageotte and to Worlds heptathlon bronze medalist Anna Hall for “Breathrough Performer of the Year.” Sprint icon Allyson Felix received the 2022 USATF Legacy Award for her lasting impact on the sport.
Sign of the times? From Athletics Canada’s Twitter feed:
“CONFIRMED: The NACAC Cross Country Championships, scheduled for January 21, 2023 in El Salvador has been cancelled due to a lack of participating nations.”
Sad news that Tony Waldrop, who electrified the track and field world with a 3:55.0 indoor mile world record in 1974, passed on 3 December, at age 70. Waldrop was a two-time NCAA Indoor champion for North Carolina in 1973-74 and won the 1975 Pan American Games gold at 1,500 m in 1975. But he skipped the 1976 Olympic Trials in order to complete his Ph.D. in physiology, beginning a long career in academia that climaxed as President of the University of South Alabama from 2014-21.
● Weightlifting ● Although the International Weightlifting Federation has new officers and a new board, it has not shaken the plague of doping. The International Testing Agency announced four “apparent” doping violations on Saturday, just a couple of days before the 2022 World Championships opened Monday in Bogota (COL):
● Ahmed Emad Mohamed (EGY: men’s 77 kg) for Human Growth Hormone;
● Ruslan Kozhakin (UKR: men’s 89 kg) for trimetazidine, a hormone and metabolic modulator;
● Bohdan Taranenko (UKR: men’s +109 kg) for trimetazidine;
● Zacarias Bonnat (DOM: men’s 81 kg) for SARMS RAD 140, an alternative to anabolic steroids, which is also banned. .
Kozhakin was sixth at the 2022 European Championships at 89 kg, and seventh at the 2021 Worlds; Taranenko won a World Junior bronze medal earlier this year at +109 kg, and Bonnat was the Tokyo Olympic silver medalist at 81 kg.
Mohamed’s positive test came during the African Championships in October; the other three failed out-of-competition tests. Not good news for the sport.
For our updated, 951-event International Sports Calendar for 2022-23 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!