- Italy, Netherlands, Chile failed to qualify for the 2018 football world cup
For Buffon, the 2018 World Cup was probably going to be his final international event. Instead, his team could not qualify for the main event for the first time since 1958. Italy lost to Sweden in the play-off as a teary-eyed Buffon announced his international retirement.
Another country with World Cup history, a disastrous campaign first under Danny Blind and then Dick Advocaat saw Holland finish third behind Sweden. Finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010, and semifinalists in 2014, the failure to reach Russia brought the curtain down on the career of Arjen Robben and has sparked much soul-searching in the home of ‘total football’.
The current Copa America champions surprised many when they missed finished sixth in the South American group. Starting the final day in third place in the group, an amazing sequence of results saw the talented Chileans miss out.
- Football transfer record got broken again
- Ben stokes Bristol brawl and England lost the Ashes
A street brawl incident involving England’s top all-rounder Ben Stokes led to his suspension from the squad for the Ashes. Cricket’s oldest rivalry, the Ashes, was around the corner and England were playing against West Indies at home in September end. Ben Stokes, along with Alex Hales, however, decided to party after home team’s 124-run victory in the third ODI over the touring side but ended up getting caught by the police.
For the worse, Ben Stokes can be in more soup as Avon & Somerset Police completed the investigation of the incident and are “seeking charging advice”. At the time this report has been filed, England had lost its right over the Ashes.
- Bolt couldn’t finish his last race
Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, entered the World Championships in London to bid adieu the sport and thus, to hang his boots on a high. Instead, there were disappointments in store for him. The eight-time Olympics gold medallist had to be satisfied with a bronze in the 100m run, with the gold going to ‘drug-cheat’ Justin Gatlin. In his final race, the 4x100m relay, Bolt suffered a muscle cramp and could not finish the dash. The track wanted to hug him!
- Sharapova got wildcard on her return from doping ban
Organizers of Porsche Tennis Grand Prix aided Maria Sharapova’s return from a 15-month ban for doping by granting her a wildcard in Stuttgart. The decision was bound to strike a few raw nerves. Many of Sharapova’s peers expressed a common unhappy sentiment that the Russian did not merit such generosity owing to the reason behind her absence from the tour. The French Open subsequently opted not to give the five-time Grand Slam winner a wildcard. Sharapova then announced she would not put in a request for one at Wimbledon. US Open officials, though, had no issue issuing the former world-beater a wildcard.
- Vettel and Hamilton collided on track
The Formula One season of 2017 was supposed to be another edition in the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. It was the 8th Grand Prix of the season at Azerbaijan and Hamilton and Vettel were tied at three top podium finishes each. Baku City circuit was to provide the ultimate showdown of the season and the decide the tie-breaker between them. Hamilton led Vettel as they drove behind a safety car. But believing Hamilton had braked deliberately in front of him, Vettel drove his Ferrari into the Mercedes. Creating midway fear of an accident pile up. The Ferrari driver was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty and was branded a ‘disgrace’ by Hamilton after the race.
- Russia banned from Winter Olympics 2018
After a report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating program which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee banned Russia over its state-orchestrated doping programme, but clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would allow athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics under a neutral flag.
- Trump abused NFL player
US president Donald Trump built a storm as he described NFL players, who took a knee when US national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played, as “sons of bitches”. He added that such players should be fired. Trump’s comments were met with fiery criticism by the players as well as team owners.
Just hours after this tirade, Trump rescinded NBA champions Golden State Warriors’ invitation to visit the White House even after the Stephen Curry-led side had already decided to pass up on the meet-and greet. NBA superstar Lebron James leapt to Curry’s defence calling Trump a ‘bum’ in a tweet.
- Smog hits Delhi test
The world witnessed the disturbing sight of a number of players taking to the field wearing masks to shield themselves from Delhi’s extremely toxic air during day two of the second Test between India and Sri Lanka. Play was held up on two occasions, first when the Lankan physio attended to struggling pacer Lahiru Gamage and then when fellow fast bowler Suranga Lakmal walked off the field. Things worsened to a point where India captain Virat Kohli was almost forced into a declaration as the visitors ran short of players who were healthy enough to field.
- Sushil returned uncontested
In November, two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar announced his intent to return to the international mat wrestling arena. Grappler Sushil Kumar participated in the National Championships. However, his comeback trail was shortlived with a cake-walk National Championships. Back in action after three years, Sushil battled for just 2 minutes and 33 seconds in total on the mat as he fought only two of his initial round bouts. His opponents in quarter-, semi- and final surrendered without a fight. Sushil said after winning the yellow metal in the most bizarre manner, “If my opponents are not ready to fight, what could I have possibly done in such circumstances.” Luckily, his comeback to the international arena was a glorious on as he clinched a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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