MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The soccer world took a major hit Wednesday after it was discovered several officials had been arrested in a probe of corruption involving the locations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term at running one of the largest soccer organizations in the world, but he has not been named in the investigations. There will also not be a revote on those two World Cups, 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. To dumb it down, officials have been accused of money laundering to sway the vote for the locations of World Cup tournaments. It had been speculated in the past, but it’s the first time there had been any arrests in such a situation. It’s quite the scandal for soccer worldwide.
It also sparks the question, what are the top sports scandals in history? While these are not ranked, here are 10 that immediately come to mind.
Duke Lacrosse Rape Allegations (2006)
They’ve won two national titles since, but the Duke University community was rocked and scarred by rape allegations surrounding members of the lacrosse team. They hired two strippers for a party, and later one of the dancers accused the players of rape and kidnapping. The story took off nationally and was fueled by allegations of a hate crime given that the players are white and both dancers were black. Three players were later cleared of all charges in the case and settled a lawsuit with Duke for about $20 million each.
Tiger Woods Ugly Divorce from Elin Nordegren
For several years, Tiger Woods was the most dominant golfer on the planet that nobody knew much about away from the golf course. He preferred it that way. His life took a tailspin around Thanksgiving in 2009. He was reportedly in a car crash near his Florida home, but we later found out it was his now ex-wife chasing him down the street with a golf club after she discovered his infidelity. It was later revealed that Woods had cheated on her with at least 12 women. They were officially divorced in August of 2010. His golf game and personal life haven’t been the same since 2009. He most recently was seeing Lindsey Vonn, but that relationship also ended after three years.
Pete Rose Banned After Betting On Baseball
Pete Rose will go down as one of the best to ever play baseball, but he may never be elected to the Hall of Fame. He’s serving a lifetime ban from MLB and the Hall of Fame ballot after an investigation revealed he bet on baseball, including while managing the Cincinnati Reds. He finished his playing career a .303 hitter with 4,256 career base hits.
New England Patriots and DeflateGate
In one of the bigger recent controversies in the NFL, the league put the hammer down on the New England Patriots for having air taken out footballs under the league’s mandated pressure standards. Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and took away draft picks as a result of #DeflateGate. Brady has appealed his suspension. It’s important to remember the Patriots were also disciplined in 2007 after they were caught filming the New York Jets defensive signals during a game and took advantage of it.
Danny Almonte at the Little League World Series (2001)
Danny Almonte is now a high school assistant coach, but he was a dominant pitcher for a team out of the Bronx, New York, in the Little League World Series. He threw a perfect game and had 62 strikeouts at the World Series as his team got to the U.S. Championship game before losing. We found out later that he wasn’t eligible to play because he was three years older than Little League rules allow. It’s the biggest scandal in the history of Little League Baseball.
Tonya Harding Sabotages Nancy Kerrigan? (1994)
It’s one of the more bizarre scandals in sports. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were two of the best skaters in the world in the early 1990s. Before the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which had a hand in deciding the Olympic team, a man attacked Kerrigan and hit her in the back of her right leg with a pole. Then the rumors started swirling after it was revealed that her now ex-husband and bodyguard conspired to hire the man that attacked Kerrigan. In the next Olympics, Harding took eighth and Kerrigan won the silver medal.
Kobe Bryant Arrested For Sexual Assault (2003)
By all accounts, Kobe Bryant was well-liked early in his NBA career. He was a star in the league and was very mature for his age, able to speak multiple languages. In 2003, he was arrested in California for sexually assaulting a hotel employee. Bryant said even though he was married, the he never assaulted the woman and their sex was consensual. His image hasn’t fully recovered since.
NBA Ref Bets On Games He Officiated (2003-07)
Tim Donaghy will go down as one of the most controversial referees in the history of sports, much less the NBA. An investigation revealed that from 2003 to 2007, Donaghy actively wagered on games that he officiated in and affected their outcome. There were at least 10 games in 2007 that he worked where the point spread moved at least 1.5 points before the tip, pointing to signs of large pregame wagers, because the big money won. Donaghy was fined $500,000 and sentenced to 15 months in prison in the scandal.
Michael Vick Arrested for Dogfighting (2007)
The NFL gets its share of bad news, but right up there has to be Michael Vick and the dogfighting scandal in 2007. He was implicated for running a dogfighting ring for up to five years out of his home, where several of his dogs were killed and others were badly hurt. He spent 21 months in federal prison and was cut by the Falcons before joining the Eagles.
O.J. Simpson’s Low-Speed Chase in California (1994)
We all remember where we were when O.J. Simpson led authorities on a low-speed chase in California in 1994. It was captured on live TV, where he was in the back of a white Ford Bronco with a gun as police followed after he was accused of murdering his wife and another man. He went to federal court and after a nine-month trial, was found not guilty despite a conviction being all but certain. The case and ruling was as strange as the low-speed chase.
Adrian Peterson Suspended For Hitting Son With Switch (2014)
Adrian Peterson played one game for the Minnesota Vikings last season and the news of him facing child abuse accusations sent shockwaves across the NFL. He eventually reached a plea in the case after admitting to hitting his 4-year-old son with a tree branch as a form of discipline. He was suspended by the NFL, but not until after a series of missteps by the league and the Vikings. He was deactivated in Week 2, and his reinstatement the following Monday set off social media with angry fans. Major sponsors stepped away from the Vikings after the allegations became public. Peterson has since been reinstated, but it’s still not known if he’ll play for the Vikings this season.
As long as professional sports and mega dollars are intertwined, we’re bound to have more scandals in sports. It’s just a matter of time before another investigation leads to another court case involving a high-profile athlete. And when they admit fault, yes we know, they’re actually saying they are sorry for getting caught.