The sport did everything possible to return to normal in 2022 after two years of interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The danger of positive tests still loomed, but this year the biggest impact on the calendar was brought by the need to stage the World Cup in winter.
Here, we take a look at 10 things we’ve learned from the sporting year.
England must bide its time
Another World Cup led to even more frustration for England, as Harry Kane missed a late penalty in a 2-1 quarter-final loss to France.
But while there was disappointment after the defeat, England hope that a new golden generation is on the way. Ten members of this team were 25 or younger and only a few will be over 32 at the next World Cup in four years.
Meanwhile, a variety of talent including Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Jadon Sancho, Emile Smith Rowe and Harvey Elliott will be looking to get their shot next time around.
Sport is still confused with politics
History has shown that the notion that there is no place for politics in sport has always been nonsense, but the relationship remains complicated.
One-minute governing bodies are quick to embrace certain messages, as seen in the official adoption of calls for peace after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Ukrainian flags waving proudly at a major sporting event.
The next, FIFA pens a letter to all World Cup nations telling them to “focus on football,” threats of sanctions for promoting messages of inclusion, and the downright bizarre speech delivered by Gianni Infantino on the eve of kick off.
Sport remains an intensely powerful force in world affairs, but often in spite of, rather than because of, its leaders.
Chelsea’s forced sale due to sanctions placed on former Russian owner Roman Abramovich brought in a staggering fee of £4.25bn.
Premier League owners were quick to recalculate the value of their own assets, and by the end of the year the league’s two most revered brands, Manchester United and Liverpool, are up for sale.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire called it the “ultimate Premier League”, a sign owners believe clubs will never be worth more than they are now after the failure of the European Super League and Project Big Picture to concentrate even more power. on top.
English cricket ‘runs towards danger’
The double act of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum has reinvigorated the fortunes of an ailing Test team and is pushing the boundaries of what the format can be.
Both men are instinctive players and born attackers and have taken the team’s philosophy in a bold new direction.
New women’s coach Jon Lewis wants to do the same, which means next year’s Summer Ashes double should be a bona fide spectacle.
Rugby in crisis
Shock waves were sent through club rugby in October when both Wasps and Worcester went into administration 13 days apart, suspended from England’s top flight and relegated to the Championship.
Both clubs mentioned that the pandemic had affected finances, but the RFU rejected their requests for ‘no-fault insolvency’, saying other factors were at play. RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said he showed that the current model in English rugby union is “broken”.
Ronaldo’s undignified exit
Cristiano Ronaldo has built a stellar career through immense talent and sheer willpower. His colossal ego was both the result and the fuel, a necessary part of the formula that made him one of the greatest to play the game.
But now he’s also behind an undignified departure, first from Manchester United and now apparently from Portugal as well. His bombshell interview with Piers Morgan was effectively a letter of resignation from United after he found himself out of Erik ten Hag’s plans.
At the World Cup, he found himself on the bench for Goncalo Ramos amid claims of a raid, and Ramos’s hat-trick surely made the situation permanent.
Ronaldo, a free agent in search of Champions League soccer, has found few takers and seems destined to build his career in the Middle East.
Good things come to those who wait
When Eve Muirhead led Great Britain to the curling gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, it was the end of a long journey.
Since becoming the youngest female jumper to win a world curling title in 2013, Muirhead had endured a series of disappointments, with just one bronze in 2014 to show for her three previous Olympic appearances.
His luck didn’t seem to be changing: His team initially failed to qualify for the Games at last year’s World Championships in Calgary, then tested positive for Covid before the final qualifiers.
Having reached Beijing, they stuttered in the round-robin phase, but somehow made it to the final. Once there, they didn’t make a mistake, pulling off a resounding 10-3 win over Japan.
Soccer’s enduring taboo
In May, 17-year-old Blackpool striker Jake Daniels came out as gay, making him the only active UK male player to do so. The teenager was widely praised for telling his story, but the mere fact that he was remarkable showed how far football still has to go.
Many wondered if other players would do the same, particularly given the focus on the issue ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
But, two years after the Justin Fashanu Foundation published a letter from an anonymous Premier League player saying he was too scared to come out because the game hadn’t caught up with society, no one else had.
Those Formula One fans who were never happy with the way Max Verstappen wrested the 2021 title from Lewis Hamilton at the end of last season were given yet another reason to add an asterisk to the result in October when Red Bull were found guilty of violate cost limits. last year.
Ross Brawn had previously said such offenses would cost teams their titles, but since the offense was deemed minor, Red Bull got away with a fine and reduced wind tunnel testing time.
That wasn’t enough to stop the tension in the paddock from becoming increasingly toxic in the closing weeks of the season, and the ill feelings seemed unlikely to subside before next season.
Birmingham offers a future for the Commonwealth Games
When the 22nd Commonwealth Games opened in Birmingham at the end of July, the future of the event was in doubt. Seen as a historical anachronism, the Games needed to show that they could be relevant in the modern world.
And over the course of 11 days, Birmingham showed what it could be like, embracing the Games like no city before as fans filled the stands and provided a feel-good factor that can mark the event as something other than victory. mentality costs elsewhere.
Birmingham didn’t solve all the problems by any means, but it pointed the way forward.
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