Now, let's see if real change can happen. It'll take a while, and some courage of a lot of FIFA members to do what's right for the game (that means not for themselves) and transform the organization into a true and transparent vehicle for the sports advocacy and development, and not just a big party to throw themselves.
And Now Let's Pay Attention to the Game
While FIFA unravels, a little competition called the Women's World Cup started this weekend in Canada, despite the artificial turf and the no-show of top FIFA officials. Oh well - let's focus on what we all love for a moment. The winners in the first two days were Canada (fittingly), Netherlands (nice), Norway, and Germany (wow - by 10 goals). The victims of that tough show, the second most lopsided in Women's Cup history, by the Germans? Third-ranked African team Ivory Coast...maybe they can show something against fellow Cup debutantes Thailand (victims to Norway, 0-4) on the 11th. One of them should make more positive history then.
What's That? A New Athletics World Record?
Didn't hear of it? Well, probably because it occurred in women's race walking. China's Liu Hong won the event at the Gran Premio Cantones de Marcha in La Coruna, Spain over the weekend. Liu's time, if ratified, of 1:24:38 beats the last official world best of 1:25:02, by Russian Yelena Lashmava at the London Games. Congrats!
Speaking of Chinese Athletics
The 21st Asian Athletics Championships concluded this weekend (um, without walking events) with China on top overall. The host nation finished the Wuhan competition with 41 medals overall, followed by Japan's 18 and India's 13. Perhaps most notable across the event was Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim not winning the men's high jump in the rain, despite an otherwise successful season as the world's leading jumper.
More Rugby Teams Qualifying
Two more teams qualified for the inaugural Olympics rugby sevens competition next year, after the conclusion of the CONSUR Sevens Championships in Santa Fe, Argentina this weekend. On the men's side, Argentina will represent the Confederation Sudamerica de Rugby (CONSUR), with Uruguay and Chile moving onto a final special Olympic Qualifying tournament for another chance. And, in what sounds like an upset despite their clear four-point margin over Argentina, Colombia will represent on the women's side. The Argentines and Venezuelans will move onto the Qualification tournament. Congrats to both!
Sport for the people! A multi-sport competition with free admission for everyone? Fun! But, alas, the good times had to end at some point. The Games of the Small States of Europe in Reykjavik ended over the weekend with a win by Montenegro over Iceland in men's basketball. The hosts came through in style, though, overall during the course of the Games, with an overall medal tally of 115 (38 gold). Luxembourg gave them a run at the top of the podium with 34 golds, but only 80 overall. All nine small states competing earned medals, with Andorra and San Marino bringing in the rear with 11 total each.
One Event Ends, Another Starts
Fans of multi-sport events, don't worry - the Southeast Asian Games have begun! In the first official three days of competition, the host Singaporeans have already rocketed to the medal tally lead with, um, 83 medals. No doubt helped by the fact that medal events were held two days before the opening ceremony. The first golds - in men's and women's table tennis doubles, were won by Singapore. Traditional regional power Thailand has a ways to go to catch up, with only 63 medals so far...
European Fencers in Spotlight
The annual European Fencing Championships got underway over the weekend in Montreux, Switzerland with a nice diversity of nations earning medals in the first two days of competition. Italy's Andrea Cassara won the men's foil to start Italy off to a strong showing, with five total medals over four events. Russia is next with three, led by Violetta Kolobova and Sofiya Velikaya winning the epee and sabre, respectively. Competition continues through the 11th.
Djokovic Foiled in His French Attempt
Perhaps distracted by his historic quarterfinal win versus Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic couldn't quite win the French Open, losing to Stan Wawrinka in a four-set match. Wawrinka played a great, aggressive match to beat Djokovic, and deny him the missing Grand Slam from his resume and ending his 28-match win streak. Meanwhile, and according to form, Serena Williams won the ladies' singles - and her 20th major title - over Lucie Safarova.
More Winter Olympic Events?
The IOC has announced that additional sport disciplines are being evaluated for Pyeongchang 2018, the next Winter Olympics. To be decided upon at the IOC Executive Board meeting this week are the additions of mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling (go Hungary!), and big air in snowboarding and freestyle skiing. I'm all for it - sure. But let's get some new sports in, too. Bandy? And what about synchronized figure skating??