Sports

Year-Ender 2023: Major Controversies That Rocked The Sporting World

The sports world was rocked by several controversies in 2023, that made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Here's a look at the most contentious sporting moments in the past 12 months, through this year-ender

Wrestlers protest at Jantar Mantar
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As the year 2023 draws to a close, sporting action did have its memorable highs but also some controversial lows. Despite having seen a lot of historical records and feats being achieved, 2023 had its share of contentious moments that were etched in history too. (More Sports News)

Right from the wrestlers' protest at Jantar Mantar to the Luis Rubiales' sexual assault case of Jenni Hermoso, 2023 has had many not-so-pleasant instances that will be remembered for long.

In this year-neder, we list down the most controversial moments that really rocked the sporting world in the year 2023:

Wrestlers Protest At Delhi's Jantar Mantar

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Protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in May. X

The year 2023 will be specifically be known for the Indian wrestlers' protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar wherein Asian and Olympic Games medal winners such as Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia among others, sat on a dharna to protest against the President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's removal from the post. The protest began in January 2023 at Jantar Mantar as many wrestlers flocked to the area and demanded a swift action as the WFI president. At one protest, the police even lathicharged the wrestlers and were man-handled by them.

The protest garnered worldwide attention as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called the treatment of Indian wrestlers by the police ‘very disturbing’ and for a speedy investigation against Brij Bhushan Singh. Even the World Wrestling body, United World Wrestling (UWW) condemned the action taken against the wrestlers. The Wrestling body asked for a 45-day deadline for elections to select a new WFI administration and a failure to do so, may lead to a suspension. However, delays continued from the WFI end and UWW finally suspended the Indian body which meant that the Indian wrestlers (barring the ones who are protesting) were to use a neutral flag at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships.

Jennifer Hermoso-Luis Rubiales Kiss Scandal

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Luis Rubiales seen here kissing Hermoso during the Womens WC trophy presentation. AP


In August 2023, Spain national women's football team defeated the England national women's football team 1-0 in the final of FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 in Sydney, Australia. However, controversy marred post-game as images appeared of the then-Spanish Football Association president Luis Rubiales kissing midfielder Jennifer Hermoso during the medal ceremony to which the player did not like, as she revealed on her Instagram live stream. Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez called for Rubiales' sacking and the latter even apologised for his actions.

FIFA Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspended the Spaniard and after all the hullaballo, Rubiales was shown the exit door when he was banned from footballing engagements for three years and moreover, he even resigned from the post of Spanish FA President as well as UEFA's vice-president post.

Simona Halep Banned For Doping

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Simona Halep, of Romania, returns a shot to Daria Snigur, of Ukraine, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships in New York. Photo: AP/Seth Wenig

Former world number one in Women's tennis Simona Halep tested positive for a banned substance during the US Open 2022. She did receive a provisional suspension but her ban was upheld in September this year. However The International Tennis Integrity Agency barred two-time Grand Slam champion from professional tennis for four years for drug offences. A panel determined that Halep "had committed intentional anti-doping rule violations."

Angelo Mathews' Timed Out Dismissal

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An angry Angelo Mathews walks back to the pavillion X/mufaddal_vohra

During the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Angelo Mathews was given timed out by the on-field umpires after the opposition skipper Shakib Al Hasan appealed for the former arriving late at the crease. Mathews, of Sri Lanka, took time to take the crease and in spur of the moment, Shakib approached the umpires for the former's late arrival. The veteran Sri Lankan was adjudged out as per the laws and it went down as one of the most controversial moments in cricketing history.

Indian Wushu Team's Visa Rejected At Asian Games

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Wushu athlete Mepung Lamgu with two other Wushu athletes having breakfast at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel, in New Delhi. Wushu athlete Mepung Lamgu had gone incommunicado since being denied visa to travel to China for the Asian Games, leaving her family members in Arunachal Pradesh worried and clinging to hope that she would'nt take any extreme step. Photo: PTI

Indian sports was marred in controversy when three Wushu players - Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu - who hailed from Arunachal Pradesh, were refused entry to China despite having e-accreditations from the Asian Games' organisers. The denial of entry to Indian Wushu players led to strong statements from the Indian sports ministry especially the sports minister Anurag Thakur, who cancelled his official trip to the Games as an official protest.

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