During the year of many upheavals due to Covid-19, the sports world still witnessed emotional events.
January 26 – Kobe Bryant dies.
No need to be a basketball fan or even an average sports fan to get to know Kobe Bryant, and be shocked by the 41-year-old basketball legend’s death. The former Los Angeles Lakers footballer dies with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others – in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26.
As a global sporting icon, Kobe – like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan, Diego Maradona, Muhammad Ali or Pele – is revered in any country in the world. He earned that sentiment with an illustrious career.
Bryant finished his basketball career in 2016, after winning five NBA titles, 11 being selected for the first team of the All-NBA, and 18 times for the All-Star squad. He spent all 20 years playing professionally with the Lakers, winning the MVP (Best Player) in the American Professional Basketball Championship in 2008.
Christina Aguilera sang the song Ave Maria in memorial of Kobe Bryant
Bryant is one of the greatest players the NBA has ever produced. His influence hasn’t been overshadowed when he retires. Many of the contemporary NBA superstars – from LeBron James, Damian Lillard to Trae Young, and Kyrie Irving – build their careers on Bryant’s perseverance and his professional ethics and skills.
The reaction of NBA players, fans, soccer players, musicians, entertainers, and stars from all sports to Bryant’s death speaks to the mark left behind by this legend. Cristiano Ronaldo calls Bryant “a true legend”. Lionel Messi calls him “genius”. LeBron James vowed to win the NBA championship to dedicate to Bryant. After a four-month hiatus due to the pandemic, James and their teammates delivered on that promise, bringing back the Lakers’ first NBA title since 2010.
February 22 – Fury wins Wilder knockout
British boxer Tyson Fury defeated Deontay Wilder – previously unbeaten – to win the WBC World Championship. Fury has returned to the ring from overweight and psychological troubles, after becoming a world heavyweight champion for the first time by defeating Wladimir Klitschko.
Fury missed the chance to win the WBC title in his first match against Wilder when the match ended in a draw. But in the rematch in February 2020, the 32-year-old boxer only needed seven innings to defeat Wilder.
Fury won the World WBC belt
The result came after Fury hired new coach Sugar-Hill Steward, a knock-out specialist, who worked with Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. Fury overwhelmed Wilder throughout the game, with his bodybuilding and heavy blows.
Victory over Wilder is a springboard for Fury to fulfill his desire to become the absolute champion of heavyweight boxing in 2021 if an agreement is reached against Anthony Joshua – the remaining three prestigious titles are IBF, WBA Super, and WBO.
March – Sports paralyzed because of Covid-19
Due to Covid-19, the major sporting events of the world were suspended simultaneously in March, something unprecedented in history. In football, Europe’s top leagues are stalled, and will only return later in the summer in the absence of an audience. Ligue 1 even ended early and the cup was awarded to PSG.
Worldwide, there are about 48,800 events scheduled for 2020, but only 53% of these are still viable. Estimated global sports revenue reached $ 73.7 billion – up to $ 61.6 billion less than the forecast made before the epidemic.
Several major sports events were canceled, including the Grand Slam Wimbledon in tennis and The Open Championship in golf. All other major tournaments are pushed back to the end of the year.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved the Summer Olympics to 2021, while the major continental football leagues, Euro or Copa America, were also pushed back a year. This makes 2021 promise to be a very exciting year for world sports if the pandemic is under control.
May 25 – Global sports speak out after the death of George Floyd
The fact that the colored man George Floyd was killed by the police during his arrest not only caused outrage in public opinion but also affected the sport. Many famous sports athletes kneel to support the Black Lives Matter movement taking place in America.
In the photo, Liverpool players wear a mix of home, away, and training shirts with different colors, representing many skin colors. Everyone stopped practicing and knelt around the circle in the middle of the yard, in response to the anti-racist movement.
In Germany, some scoring players also celebrated the goal with a message to support Floyd. On social networks, many sports stars also expressed their outrage, typically basketball legend Michael Jordan, F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, players Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba. In the NBA professional basketball tournament, players kneel while singing the national anthem. This was described by Donald Trump – the US President at the time – as “an insult”.
July 22 – Liverpool lifts the Premier League Cup
Liverpool quenched their thirst for the English championship that lasted for three decades on July 22, following a 5-3 win over Chelsea at Anfield. No fans could enter the field to witness “The Kop” ‘s first Premier League coronation.
Coach Jurgen Kloop’s teachers and students, in fact, won the championship since June 25, when the tournament had seven rounds remaining. They had to wait almost a month to get their hands on the Premier League title in their final home game, where Liverpool had not lost in their previous 58 games.
Before this year’s championship, the last time Liverpool stepped up to the top of English football was in 1990, with generations of John Barnes, Ian Rush, Steve Nicol, Bruce Grobbelaar … under the legendary Kenny Dalglish.
“Special. Extremely special,” said Klopp of the longest campaign in Premier League history. Captain Jordan Henderson said: “Striding on the pitch with a cup in hand is great. The players deserve this moment. This is Liverpool’s unbelievable season.”
August 25 – Messi demands to leave Barca
Barca suffered a series of shocks at the end of last season. For the first time since 1951, they lost a gap of six goals when they lost 2-8 to Bayern in the Champions League semi-final. That was the end of the Quique Setien dynasty. But worse, captain Lionel Messi publicly intended to leave the Camp Nou.
Just 11 days after losing to Bayern, Messi sent the burofax to Barca asking for the activation of a clause that would allow him to leave as a free form. Fans spent days wondering about Messi’s next stop. Barca did not let that come true. They announced that the deadline for Messi to ask to terminate the contract had expired and were ready to plunge into a legal battle.
Barca wants $ 859 million to release Messi, in accordance with the contract breaking terms. The 33-year-old star did not return to practice on time on August 31. But on September 4, in an exclusive interview with Goal, Messi announced that he would stay in Barca until the end of the season. “Barca is the team of my life and it is out of my mind to judge everything in court,” Messi said.
November 15 – Hamilton wins F1 for the seventh time
Lewis Hamilton became the most successful F1 driver of all time. He beat legendary Michael Schumacher’s record 91 leg wins in October. By November, victory in Turkey helped the British driver level the record seven times world championships that Schumacher set 16 years ago.
This race is the best demonstration of Hamilton’s talent. He started sixth, 20 seconds behind the first group in eight laps, in slippery conditions. But then still took the lead in round 37 and from there, no one passed in the remaining 21 rounds. Hamilton celebrated his victory by kneeling to uphold the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a turbulent year, the 35-year-old star perfectly combined the role of a sportsman and a politician.
November 25 – Maradona dies
The football world’s biggest loss in 2020 is the departure of Diego Maradona. The Argentinian legend breathed his last at his home in Buenos Aires, three weeks after his 60th birthday. The cause of death was heart failure leading to acute pulmonary edema. Maradona had had brain surgery before and had a history of alcohol and drug addiction.
“Golden Boy” left a glorious career, accompanied by a lot of controversies. Maradona and Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, the tournament he won the Ballon d’Or. He scored by hand in the quarter-final against England, creating a story that has not ended up until now. In 2002, the FIFA website chose this as “The Goal of the 20th Century”.
Maradona is also full of glory with Napoli, where he won two Scudetto. The Italian team immediately changed its name to Diego Armando Maradona, days after the legend passed away. Maradona spent most of his career in Europe, where he also played for Barca and Sevilla. This was also the time when Maradona got into many troubles, from drugs and tax evasion to relationships with criminal organizations. He was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup for being positive for banned substances. After retiring, he spent five years in Cuban detoxification and underwent the most fatalities.
Despite her scandal, Maradona still won the love of the majority. Millions of people were present in Buenos Aires for his funeral. They joined in convoys to bring Maradona’s cemeteries to the cemetery. “I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend,” Pele expressed pain when she learned of Maradona’s death.
11/29 – Grosjean crashes on F1 track
Romain Grosjean, fortunately, survived a terrible accident on the Bahrain race on November 29. Haas crew’s VF-20 crashed into the barrier at 225km / h, broken in two, and burned violently. The helmet that Grosjean used melted but he was only slightly injured. This is the most serious F1 accident after Jules Bianchi’s crash in Suzuka in 2014.
Post-accident analysis showed that the Halo protective device had saved the 34-year-old star’s life. In 2017, it was Grosjean who criticized its use on F1 cars. In the catastrophic accident, the titanium device protecting the cockpit kept Grosjean awake to leave the car after 28 seconds of fire. Grosjean’s haunting accident caused experts to continue to research and upgrade safety equipment for drivers in the future.