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Keepie Uppie

To the one who has, as the man said, more will be given. Nowhere in sport is this so clearly seen as in the upper echelons of European club football, where the UEFA Champions League has been arranged so that the most successful and wealthy clubs are all but guaranteed a sizeable income from the competition.

As the European Cup, this was originally structured as a knock-out tournament for the teams that had won the league competition in each country. Before money called the tune in national leagues, this opened the way for teams such as Nottingham Forest to win the final. But the bigger clubs disliked often being shunted into less prestigious Europe-wide competitions and the chance of being knocked out after just two games.

Action Replay: World of Sport

IT TAKES a Professor of Leisure Studies to write an atlas of sport. Alan Tomlinson’s World Atlas of Sport was published recently by Myriad Editions and New Internationalist. It contains sections on specific sports, on individual countries and, of course, on sports politics and economics.

One point that emerges is the way that globalisation has affected sport just as it has permeated many other aspects of life. This is not just a matter of the global dominance of football but of the undermining of more local sports, though of course many of these survive, such as pétanque in France and Gaelic football on Ireland. In other cases, changes can only be welcomed: pato in Argentina is no longer played using a live duck rather than a ball.

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Nice Little Earners
Being a successful athlete can make you rich, very rich. Footballers, for instance, may get contracts involving staggering sums of money, often with bonuses for winning trophies. In many cases the actual sporting income is only a small part: tennis-player Maria Sharapova ‘earns’ around £15m a year, but well under a million of this is from prize money. The rest comes from advertising and endorsements, everything from rackets to handbags and cars. She is supposedly the third-richest athlete in the world. 
Lewis Hamilton’s racing driver outfit is covered with the names of companies he endorses: banks, mobile phones, whisky. Of course the sports stars need to have positive associations such as success, glamour and honesty.

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Short Changed

The laws of football don’t say much about what players can or must wear. Shirt and shorts, no jewellery (on safety grounds), no undershirts that contain advertising (though of course in the professional game the shirts themselves have the sponsor’s name or logo prominently displayed). But in some sports the players’ clothing is a controversial issue – the clothing of women players, we mean.

It was recently decreed that women in badminton tournaments above a certain level must wear skirts, supposedly ‘to ensure attractive presentation of badminton’, which presumably involves making the players look more comely and so enticing more spectators and TV coverage. The ruling means skirts as opposed to shorts, though in fact the new regulations do allow skirts over shorts or tracksuit bottoms, so it’s not clear how effective they will really be.

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