wrong with the Windies!
man at the Kop
Leagues end, Euro Cup begins
Power politics and Olympics-I
The proverbial bad penny
As PCB supremo, Zaka Ashraf has set himself a lot of big targets. But can he deliver with a team of mostly inept officials?
By Khalid Hussain
Till a few
weeks back, Pakistan’s cricket authorities seemed to be in a hurry to
launch their own version of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Headed by
Zaka Ashraf, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had even announced it
intentions to stage the inaugural Twenty20 league in October this year.
Thankfully, they have decided to delay all such plans acknowledging the
fact that there wasn’t ample time to host a successful tournament.
However, the problem
with PCB is that time, or perhaps the lack of it, is not the only
handicap confronting it. Even worse is the proverbial bad penny that
keeps on haunting it — official incompetence.
Over the years, PCB
chiefs have planned big but have almost always fallen way short of
achieving their targets. And almost always the prime reason behind their
failures was the largely incompetent team that they either inherited or
opted to build around them.
unfortunately, is no exception. As PCB chairman, he has lofty ambitions.
He wants to bring international cricket back to Pakistan. He wants to
revive bilateral cricketing ties with India besides delivering a
successful Twenty20 league.
These are not
impossible goals. In the best of times and with a professional team to
handle the various projects, Pakistan’s cricket authorities could have
achieved all of these targets. But these are hardly the best of times.
And about the team of people currently running PCB, the less said, the
Let’s just discuss
PCB’s plans of launching its own Twenty20 league. The idea isn’t a
new one as soon after India staged the inaugural IPL with a bang five
years ago PCB has been fancying its chances of playing host to a similar
event in Pakistan.
Nasim Ashraf was still
weighing the pros and cons of launching the so-called Pakistan Premier
League when Musharaf’s departure ended his stint as PCB chairman. Ijaz
Butt initially shelved the idea after taking over as PCB boss but later
ordered Board officials to work on it before his request for an
extension was denied by President Zardari last year.
The ball is now in
Zaka Ashraf’s court. He was recently in Chennai as BCCI’s guest to
watch IPL 5’s grand finale and was bowled over by all the glitz and
glamour. Before that he saw Bangladesh launching its premier Twenty20
league. Australia has its vastly-successful Big Bash while England runs
a pro-t20 event. Sri Lanka will be launching its T20 spectacle soon.
Almost all leading
cricket-playing nations have their own premier Twenty20 leagues and most
of them attract top stars from around the world.
It seems quite logical
that as a full-member of the International Cricket Council (ICC),
Pakistan should also join the bandwagon and look for its share of the
But the problem with
Pakistan is that odds are stacked heavily against them. To even come
close to IPL in terms of popularity and profits, Pakistan’s league
will have to attract crowd-pulling stars. But in the current situation
which has kept international sports persons away from Pakistan, that’s
unlikely to happen.
That’s not the only
hurdle. What about the finances?
Let’s be honest.
Pakistan is no India where business has been mostly booming. There are
more billion-dollar companies across the border than there are
billion-rupee groups here.
Even if, somehow, PCB
manages to convince foreign stars to come and play here it remains to be
seen whether it will be able to afford them. In the last five years, IPL
has really raised the bar when it comes to paying the cricketers. IPL
stars like MS Dhoni and Kevin Pietersen can now compare their salaries
with club footballers in Europe.
To cut the story
short, a Twenty20 league matching international standards will require
millions of dollars in running costs. Does the PCB have the sort of
financial wizards, who can pull it off? Judging by the Board’s past
performances, I’m not betting on it.
Another factor that
played a huge role in IPL’s success was Bollywood. Mega stars like
Shah Rukh Khan and Priety Zinta threw their weight behind the Twenty20
league adding big dozes of glamour to the cash-rich project. Can the
so-called Lollywood play a similar role for our Twenty20 league? I
don’t think so.
These hurdles are just
the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure Ashraf is well aware of it. But he
remains upbeat that the PCB can do it. Maybe he has a few aces up his
To the naked eye,
however, it’s quite obvious that as far as its team is concerned, fate
has dealt PCB a cruel hand. Can the likes of Subhan Ahmed, Intikhab Alam
or Zakir Khan deliver a successful Twenty20 league? Do they have the
competence and the creativity to mastermind an innovative and
financially successful event as promised by the PCB chairman? Maybe they
can. But I still fear that with its current bunch of officials, PCB in
its attempt to launch a Twenty20 spectacle will be trying to bite off
more than it can chew.
Khalid Hussain is
Editor Sports of The News, Karachi
GLITZ AND GLAMOUR:
Shoaib Malik dances with his wife, the Indian tennis player Sania Mirza,
and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan at an IPL event
PCB chairman Zaka
Ashraf (right) with ICC’s Haroon Lorgat and Sharad Pawar
We had been
expecting the West Indians to put up a better show in England. They had
some good sessions in both the Tests at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, but
failed to be resilient when it mattered the most.
They put up a decent
total of 243 in the first inning of the first Test with Shivnarine
Chanderpaul scoring 87. But their bowlers failed to prevent the English
from getting a big lead of 155. Then their batsmen did a better job in
the second innings, producing 345 runs. Once again Chanderpaul was the
main contributor with 91 runs. But because of the first innings lead the
English had they needed only 191 runs to win which they got after once
being 57 for 4. Roach threatened them by taking three early wickets, but
he was helped little by his fellow bowlers.
Their start in the
second Test was not encouraging either as they lost six batsmen for 136
runs. But Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy, the skipper, gave them hopes
with centuries as they took the team to 340 where Sammy departed. One
run later Samuels followed and West Indies finally perished for 370 —
a first innings total which could have been used to build up a victory.
But a triumph for them was not to be.
Their bowlers once
again failed to prevent English batsmen from getting a lead despite fall
of wickets at regular intervals. The English had only one big
partnership — between skipper Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen. Even
then they managed a 58 run lead thanks to impressive contributions from
the tail. The most terrible thing in this innings was that the West
Indians gave away 41 extra runs. It was the third highest score of the
English innings. They gave away nine byes, 10 leg-byes, four wides and
as many as 18 no-balls. If not for these extras, the English lead would
have been negligible.
And then they produced
the worst batting performance of the two Tests by crumbling at a paltry
total of 165 in their second innings. This gave the hosts a small target
of 108, which they went past losing only one wicket.
Looking at these
performances, one can easily reach the conclusion that they are failing
to win — or even draw — Test matches because of a sheer lack of
consistency in their batting and deficiency of firepower in the bowling
In the two Tests, only
three batsmen have scored runs: Chanderpaul, Samuels and Sammy. A team
can’t win Tests with contributions from just three batsmen —
especially when the three do not often perform well at the same time. In
the first Test, Chanderpaul did well, but others let him down. In the
second, Sammy and Samuels rose, but Chanderpaul fell. Had these three
performed at the same time, they could have at least secured draws.
is only one England batsman in the top four run-getters in the series so
far: Strauss. But they have won because of decent contributions from
Cook, Bell, Pietersen and Trott. All of these four have scored at least
one half century and contributed with scores in 30s and 40s on other
On the other hand,
Darren Bravo, Keiron Powell and Dinesh Ramdin and Adrian Barath have all
failed miserably. Not even a single fifty from these four in four
On the bowling side,
they have been relying on Roach to get wickets. Sammy provides a helping
hand. But no other bowler has been impressive enough. A team must have
at least two bowlers with ability to take five wickets in an innings.
Like Ambrose and Walsh, Wasim and Waqar, McGrath and Warne. Other West
Indian bowlers will have to raise their game. Roach cannot get 15
wickets in a match. Now that he is injured and out of the side, others
must put in much greater effort. With Roach in the side, they have been
losing by wickets. With Roach out, they might lose by an innings if the
others failed to improve.
and electrical tape. For many a cricketer in Pakistan and several other
parts of the world, it’s a match made in heaven. Over the years,
tape-ball cricket has become one of the most popular forms of sport in
Pakistan, India and many other countries.
In Pakistan, this
version of street cricket caught on back in the eighties and has since
then made a major impact on the sport. Many of the leading national
players made their bones playing tape-ball cricket on the streets.
Shoaib Akhtar, once the world’s fastest bowler, learnt his cricket
hurling lightning deliveries with a tennis ball. It was because of his
days as a tape-ball cricketer that helped Shahid Afridi sharpen his
pinch-hitting style that has helped him become one of the most popular
stars in the cricket world.
In recent years,
tournaments played with tape-ball have mushroomed all over Pakistan with
hundreds of thousands of players taking part in them especially during
the holy month of Ramadan.
It was because of
tape-ball cricket’s rich history that I decided to follow a few such
tournaments and the one that caught my eye was the inaugural TPL Big
Bash tournament that is under progress here at the Moin Khan Academy in
I was there for the
semifinals and was pleasantly surprised to see players turn up in smart
kits almost like the ones they use for tournaments like the IPL. The
floodlights at the ground were dazzling and the lush green field
provided an ideal setting for the six matches that were played during
the night in front of hundreds of spectators. Photographers were busy
taking pictures and one could even see a camera crew recording the
I later caught up with
Saad Nissar, CEO of TPL Direct Insurance — the event’s sponsors and
hosts — to get to know the reasons why his company decided to spend
hundreds of thousands of rupees on the event. Here are the excerpts of
TNS: What were the
reasons that prompted you to host a tape-ball cricket tournament?
SN: TPL Holdings has a
tradition of hosting big events. In the past we have hosted carnivals,
stage plays, trips, movies etc. We have even hosted hard-ball cricket
tournaments. However, in those tournaments not all could participate,
whereas tape-ball cricket is one which can be played by one and all. The
idea is to promote one big happy family. We are providing complete
family enjoyment with this competition. Cricket has always been the
thing which tends to unite us Pakistanis and this also signifies the
union of us all.
TNS: How popular do
you think is tape-ball cricket in Karachi and rest of Pakistan?
SN: Tape-ball cricket
is perhaps the most popular pastime of many in Pakistan. Anyone can be
the hero of their team. We have all seen street cricket with tape balls
and still see it. As earlier mentioned, cricket is one game our entire
country is passionate about and the most happening mode of practicing
this passion is tape-ball cricket.
TNS: What sort of
response have you received for the inaugural TPL Big Bash?
SN: The response is
simply tremendous. This inaugural tournament comprises 16 teams
belonging to Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, banks and telecom companies and we
are still getting calls and letters of companies who want to be a part
of this. Next year, Insha Allah, we plan to host an even bigger
tournament with 32 teams. TPL Big Bash will definitely be a known brand
in the coming years.
TNS: Do you think
tape-ball cricket has a bright future in Pakistan?
SN: Do you think that
the passion for cricket will fade away? Cricket in this country is
perhaps the only thing with which each and every national relates to and
tape-ball cricket which is played by everyone. I haven’t met a single
person who has never played tape-ball cricket. The game is not going
away and recently we saw a local tape-ball tournament covered by sports
channels. So yes, I see a bright future.
TNS: Will you want to
host and sponsor tape-ball events on a regular basis?
SN: Yes most
definitely. TPL Big Bash will be an annual cricket tournament and Insha
Allah will be a well known brand.
Forget Tests, ODIs or
T20s. If you consider the number of active players involved then
Pakistan’s most favourite pastime is tape-ball cricket!
after removing ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish from his position as club
manager, the Fenway Sports Group, owners of Liverpool FC, have decided
to bring in former Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers for the role.
It is worth noting
that, apart from his time at Swansea, Rodgers, aged 39, has not had
experience, as a player or as a manager, in the top tier of football.
That said, he was brought into the Chelsea backroom staff by Jose
Mourinho, after having spent time at Barcelona, Valencia, Ajax and
Twente in a similar capacity since injury forced him to retire from
football when he was 20. From a tactical point of view, Rodgers’ style
of football is a long way away from Liverpool’s more direct system of
play, as embodied by the forward runs of Steven Gerrard and the mazy
nutmeg-laden dribbles of Luis Suarez. Rodgers’ Swansea team was
thoroughly organised, and relied on possession as a means to dominate
the game and wear out opponents. Indeed, this is what Liverpool
themselves were subjected to when Swansea came visiting in the last game
of the season.
There are two things
that will factor heavily in determining if Rodgers can be a success at
Liverpool or not. The first of these is whether he will be able to rise
to the ‘big club’ mentality
that rightly pervades the Anfield atmosphere. This brings with it more
media attention, the egos of iconic players and decidedly less patience
from club owners. A recent example of failing to handle this myriad of
challenges is Andre Villas Boas who, despite managing tremendous success
at Porto, could not replicate the same at Chelsea. And this leads us to
the next crucial factor; strategy. Villas Boas lost the Chelsea dressing
room because the squad were not willing (regardless of whether they were
able) to move from their tried and tested systems to the manager’s
style of play. The young Portuguese could not stamp his authority on a
squad replete with big egos and thus could not get them to perform how
Likewise, Rodgers too
was cocooned at Swansea, where he was part of a system that had been put
in place by Paulo Sousa and Roberto Martinez, who managed the club
before him. The core of Rodgers’ team had been with the club for a
number of years, and the pass-and-move ethos had been ingrained into
them. At Liverpool, Rodgers will have to start from scratch in that he
will have to manage a transition from a very direct style of play,
focused on two or three players who ‘make things happen’, to an
indirect system where the team moves backwards and forwards as a
cohesive unit. Using the Swansea side as a template, we can quickly
assess the capabilities of the Liverpool squad to suit the kind of
passing possession Rodgers espouses.
The system requires a
keeper who is good with his feet and has the speed and courage to run
forward from his line both to collect the ball from opposition crosses
or team passes, and to distribute it efficiently. Reina has the skills
to do this, and as a product of the Barcelona youth system, will fit
into this role nicely. At the centre, a combination of vision and
aggression is needed. The vision and technical ability can be found in
either of Agger or Coates, while Carragher and Skrtel are in the mould
of defenders with a strong physical presence who can tackle hard. The
technical centre back here will be needed to play the ball out of
defence and into the midfield. In front of the centre backs will be a
holding midfielder whose job is to act as a shield and as the starting
point for the attack. This role has Lucas written all over it. With
these three roles in the centre, the full backs are given license to
play higher up the pitch. On the right, there is a wealth of options in
Johnson, Kelly and Flanagan, while on the left, Enrique is the first
choice with no real second option, though Johnson may swap flanks if
midfielders are needed to serve two purposes; one is meant to keep
possession ticking over while the other has license to run forward and
link up with the front line. In Liverpool’s context, Adam or Henderson
can be used to maintain possession while Gerrard is the most capable
going forward. A natural consequence of this setup is that the
passing/possession midfielder may sit deeper, bringing him closer to the
holding midfielder. Again, in Liverpool’s context, this is workable,
and may be more desirable if Lucas is unavailable and Spearing plays
The latter is markedly
more comfortable in a two-man defensive midfield setup. Beyond the
midfield, the wingers are expected to be able to cut in and make angular
runs behind the defence. This is because natural width will become the
responsibility of the wing backs. Suarez will be the standout performer
in this role, able to make mayhem when coming in off the wings. Bellamy
and Downing ought to be able to do this, but Kuyt less so. The Dutchman
would be more suited to the central role this formation demands. In
order to spearhead this kind of attack, the centre forward needs to be
good with his feet and able to hold up and spread play, all the time
exhibiting energy in harassing the opposition defenders. His will be the
first job in pressing to regain possession. Carrollís energy and
enthusiasm grew towards the end of the season, but while he may be able
to compete with Kuyt in terms of ability on the deck and especially in
the air, he does not come close the kind of work ethic that has endeared
Kuyt to the Liverpool faithful.
So there you have it.
Rodgers will be bringing some of his backroom staff from Swansea to
Liverpool, and if given the time and resources to mould the squad, the
appointment of this young, energetic and visionary manager may be the
best thing to happen to Liverpool in a long while. The squad does not
lack the capability to adapt, but it will need patience from the
players, fans and especially the owners, who will have to stick to their
promise of planning for the long term, and planning from the academy
roots all the way to the first team, a la Barcelona and La Masia.
The writer can be
reached at twitter @zainhqureshi
Brendan Rodgers poses with the trophy after their English Championship
play-off final victory over Reading at Wembley Stadium in London on May
30, 2011 —Reuters
really goes away, does it? At least, not for me and fervent football
lovers for whom football is like oxygen. It keeps tossing around the
mind of those who possess a deep, intense passion for it.
The exciting league
campaigns of season 2011-12 have reached their end, but thanks to Euro
2012 there will be no dearth of action for us to watch in our school and
college vacations. After a
four-year wait it’s back again for the 14th time as a Championship
organised by UEFA for the national teams of Europe.
It will be hosted by
Poland and Ukraine, begin on June 8 and end on July 1.
Sixteen nations will
fight for the title of ‘the European Champions’ and the elegant
‘Henri Delaunay’ trophy, named after UEFA’s first General
Secretary who came up with the idea of this tournament.
The teams are divided
in four groups. Group A has the co-host Poland with Greece, Russia and
Czech Republc. Group B, being referred to as the ‘group of death’
carries World Cup runner-ups Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and Germany.
In the Group C are the
defending champions Spain with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia.
The other co-host Ukraine is in Group D with England, Sweden and France.
Top two teams from
each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The final will be played
at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine. The official match ball for UEFA
Euro 2012 is the Adidas Tango 12, designed to be easier to dribble and
control than the World Cup 2010 ball Adidas Jabulani.
Slavek and Slavko are
the official mascots designed by Warner bros representing Polish and
The full name for Euro
Cup is the ‘UEFA European Football Championship’ held every four
years since 1960. All the teams other than the host nations who qualify
automatically compete in a qualifying round and sixteen enter the final
The 13 Euro titles
have been won by nine different teams. The Germans have been the most
successful with three trophies from six finals. France and Spain are the
next with two titles each. Other winners have been Italy,
Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and the Soviet Union.
The last Euro Cup
co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria in 2008 was won by Spain. Frenchman
Michel Platini is the overall top goal scorer of the tournament up till
now. His record of nine goals in the Euro Cup of 1984 is still waiting
to be broken.
The next Euro Cup
‘The Euro 2016’ is decided to be hosted by France. It’s going to
be the first Euro Cup in which 24 teams will compete.
Thinking of the
European Champions, the first potential winners that come to one’s
mind are the Spaniards as Spain can be called the ‘Brazil of Europe’
nowadays. Spain’s dominance of the football world is almost
unchallengeable as they currently possess the FIFA World Cup; Barcelona
have their hands on the FIFA Club World Cup; and Atletico Madrid own the
Europa league trophy.
As a result, all eyes
will be fixed eagerly on Spain for the answer of the question: Will they
be able to defend their title? What makes their task difficult is the
absence of their main striker David Villa, who has lost the race to be
fit for the competition. Villa has been injured for a long time and
remained out of the Barcelona squad for nearly the whole season.
Another bolt from the
blue to the Spanish side is the absence of Barcelona captain and a
remarkable defender Carlos Puyol who was on the verge of playing his
100th game with Spain but has had a knee problem, which is unlikely to
go away in time for the Euro Cup.
striker Fernando Llorente’s chance for being in the playing eleven is
unlikely and Fernando Torres has been an over all flop, guiding the ball
into the net only seven times in his Chelsea career.
Even though Torres is
a big name among great footballers but he hasn’t proved to be really
useful throughout the past years as he was in his good old days.
Roberto Soldado could
be the perfect option for Del Bosque after scoring 27 times for Valencia
In spite of Torres’
failure to convince his viewers with his recent appearances for Chelsea,
the absence of Villa and lack of strikers could prove to be his way into
the playing field.
If not Spain, then
who? This one can be answered assuredly. The Germans have a strong
chance of becoming the European champions for the fourth time. They are
placed in the ‘group of death’, but they are capable of routing
tough opponents with strong, talented, experienced and in-form players
from German club Bayern Munich, the runner-ups of this season’s
Champions League: Lahm the skipper, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Muller,
Gomez, Badstuber, Boateng and goalkeeper Neuer. Real Madrid’s in-form
mid-fielder Mesut Ozil, Khedira and Arsenal’s new man Lukas Podolski
boost the lusty German side.
Although England are
not expected to be too much trouble for either Spain or Germany they
will still not be a ‘no sweat’ opponent with well-known players like
Cole, Johnson, Terry, Gerrard, Lampard, Young, Carroll and Rooney.
For the Dutch side,
Robben and Van Persie are expected to give some match-winning
expected from the Italian, the French and the Portuguese sides.
cricketing world gears up for the forthcoming T20 World cup in Sri
Lanka, the other sport-loving part of the globe anxiously waits for the
London Olympics 2012.
USA, UK, France,
Germany, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, East Germany and China will
fight for the top honours in this epitome of global competitive sports.
The modern Olympic
Games are the brainchild of a French nobleman, Baron Pierre de
Coubertin. The idea originated from the sense of ‘National Shame’ he
developed after France’s ignominious defeat in its war with Prussia in
He considered physical
education as a means of restoring the vigour of the French youth.
Eventually, as his vision grew, he recognised the possibility of
organising an international competition. He then directed the
establishment and early development of the modern Olympics.
From the very start,
Coubertin had no illusions about the political realities involved in his
project as political intrigues, antagonisms and conflicts abounded. He
had to persuade officials in different sports to work together for a
multisport festival. Then he had to bring athletes of different
countries together. He had particular trouble persuading the French and
the Germans to compete against each other.
When the games became
more established, more national rivalries arose, as between the English
and the Americans.
The outbreak of the
First World War in 1914 brought a sudden end to the Olympics. When the
Games resumed in 1920, Coubertin came forth with new rituals and
symbols, most notably a new Olympic flag, displaying the five
The next twelve years
— from 1920 to 1932 — are known as the ‘Golden Age’ of the
The Olympic Movement,
as many like to call it, expanded to Latin America and Asia.
The Los Angeles Games
of 1932 appeared as the epitome of sport competition during the era of
great depression, as an escape from the dismal realities of life and
perhaps as an expression of hope for better times.
In 1936, the Nazi
regime in Germany, which was challenging the world order with both its
domestic and foreign policies, used the Berlin games as evidence the
world appreciated the accomplishments of this new order.
Most sport historians
agree that Berlin Games constituted a milestone in Olympic history, but
they do not necessarily agree as to why and how.
After controlling the
development of Olympics over their first quarter of a century, Coubertin
had withdrawn from the IOC leadership in 1925, but had left behind an
institutional apparatus that could succeed him and perpetuate the Games.
When he died in 1937,
the Olympics had become a grand spectacle supported by ambitious hosts
who often had motives other than the sheer joy of sports.
The organisation of
the Games requires elaborate preparation and painstaking execution, and
a complicated network of institutions provides the basic framework. The
structure is replete with acronyms such as IOC, IF, NOC and IAAF.
In order to understand
this complex structure we have to know the summit known as International
Olympic Committee (IOC). The OIC is a private international organisation
which is responsible to no one but themselves. Lord Killanin, a former
IOC President, called its members the ‘custodians of a trust’
established by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
The IOC proudly
advertises itself a self selecting, self perpetuating body and Killanin
has called it the ‘most exclusive
club’ in the world in which membership is by invitation and not
by the appointment of any head of state.
organised the first IOC meeting in 1894, designating its members as
‘ambassadors’ of the IOC to their respective countries or regions
rather than as representatives of those regions in the IOC.
He chased men of
exceptional intelligence, substantial means, sport know how and
influence whom he knew and trusted personally. He claimed his choices
represented ‘sports geography’ rather than ‘political
practices have undergone considerable modification since the World War
II. With the inclusion of Soviet Union and the Third World countries,
the committee came to tolerate a much more active role on the part of
The fundamental task
of IOC is to supervise the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, and
towards that end, it speaks of promoting the ‘development of those
physical and moral qualities which are the basis of sport’.
Centered in Lausanne,
Switzerland, it now finances itself mainly through revenue streams
generated through sale of television rights and its own marketing
Since OIC usually
meets once a year, its Executive Board handles business and makes
recommendations in the interim. The most important post in the IOC is
that of President elected by the committee for an eight-year term with
the possibility of re-election. The current President is Jacques Rogge
from Belgium whose term will expire in 2013.
The IOC itself does
not organise the Olympics in various sports disciplines; instead, it
works with two basic networks: the International Sports Federation (IFS)
and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs). The IOC decides which sport
is to be admitted to the Games, and it may set limits for the number of
medals to be awarded in any sport.
The IFS stages the
competitions for which NOCs provide the athletes.
With the Soviet entry
into Olympic family in 1951, the IOC became a cold war arena in which
the superpowers competed directly. The committee leaders continued to
insist politics had no place in the Olympic Games, but soviet
representatives looked at the question differently. They saw the 1952
Helsinki games as a great political test. Soviet displayed great concern
about their athletes. The Soviets did not want to stay in Olympic
Village. Under their pressure the authorities housed the Soviet
contingent in separate housing in Helsinki along with their East
European allies. The Soviets competed in all 26 sport disciplines in
Helsinki except field hockey.
Helsinki Olympics will
always be remembered as Olympics of many new individual records in
track, field, swimming and gymnastics.
When the Games had
been renewed in London in 1948, the Americans had easily garnered the
most medals and points. They presumed they would dominate the Helsinki
as they had in London, but to their dismay they discovered the Soviets,
were far better prepared this time.
strength in women’s events, the Soviet team amassed great numbers of
medals from the start. The Soviets were happy that they have made an
indelible mark in the sport world except football that the Soviets lost
to ideologically heretic Yugoslavs. Stalin reacted strongly and ordered
the dissolution of the Army eleven who had contributed the core of the
Soviet football team in Helsinki.
To be continued
hockey team in action during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles,