Few sporting spectacles compare to the Tour de France. Towns and villages along the route, en fete for the race, shut up shop to enjoy le pique nique by the roadside. Ever-greater numbers of foreign fans have joined the party too. Saturday’s stage, finishing atop the famous Alpe d’Huez, showed this in all its crazy glory as Chris Froome was unofficially crowned the race winner with only Sunday’s largely ceremonial ride into Paris to navigate.
Froome is about to triumph over his rivals and 3,360km of road including Europe’s highest mountains, not to mention the sheer mental and physical effort of remaining on top of his game for three weeks. But he will not have succeeded in vanquishing his critics who want more data on his performance to assure themselves he did not dope. Team Sky, who Froome races for, is reluctant. However both sides are missing the real question: what will it take to restore trust in such a drug-tainted sport?
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio arrives to give a press conference on 27 May, 2015. © Getty
Charges of corruption have swirled around Fifa for many years. Now with the arrest of senior officials at football’s world governing body and the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, those allegations may finally be converted into a genuine and full exposure of corruption at the top of world football.
Three key issues will now come into focus. First, the future of Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, who is standing for re-election for yet another term in office this Friday. Second, the future of Fifa itself, which looks increasingly like a completely rotten organisation. Third, the future of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar. On Wednesday morning, Fifa reaffirmed that these World Cups would go ahead as planned. But the corruption investigations may make that impossible. A decision to re-award the two World Cups would have political implications that go well beyond football. Read more
Moroccan supporters gesture next to a placard reading "Long life to a Morocco without Ebola". Morocco was stripped of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, and thrown out of the tournament, after saying it wanted to postpone the tournament due to fears over the Ebola epidemic. Getty
It’s been a bad week for international football. Fifa is in disarray over bribery allegations, and now African football is grappling with controversy over its prestigious tournament, the African Cup of Nations. Read more
It began in a blaze of British hubris. But three weeks later, as the Tour de France heads to the finish line on the Champs Elysees, the Brits have sunk without trace and the race has instead seen a striking renaissance of French cycling. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Germany has a habit of winning the World Cup at symbolic moments. Victory in 1954 – captured in the film, The Miracle of Bern – allowed Germans a moment of pride and redemption after defeat and disgrace in 1945. A second victory in 1974 went to a West Germany whose “economic miracle” had, by then, allowed it to regain its status as one of the world’s most advanced nations. Victory in 1990, just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, caught the joy and potential of a soon-to-be united Germany.
By Gideon Rachman
Two national tragedies struck Brazil late last week. In the city of Belo Horizonte, an overpass collapsed, killing two people. The following day, Brazil played Colombia in the quarter final of the World Cup. Brazil won the match – but Neymar, the team’s star and national posterboy, suffered a back injury that will keep him out of the rest of the tournament.
Every World Cup needs a villain, and Uruguay’s Luis Suárez must have been the pre-tournament bookmakers’ favourite to fill the role. Now he has obliged, for the second World Cup running. In 2010 he did it by saving a last-minute Ghanaian shot with his hands. He was sent off, but Ghana missed the subsequent penalty, and Uruguay went on to the semifinal.
On Tuesday the apparent bite he took out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini provided possibly the first iconic moment of this World Cup. Fifa’s disciplinary committee has yet to give its verdict, but the vast majority of global non-Uruguayan opinion seems to believe it was a bite. Jim Boyle, head of Fifa’s refereeing committee, told British TV: “Once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.” Once again Suárez’s personal dysfunction is being displayed before the world, and once again he has only his compatriots to defend him. Read more
Zojoji-temple in Tokyo (Getty)
The most significant International Olympic Committee meeting in a generation takes place this weekend – the committee will choose a host city for 2020 at the weekend amid reservations about all three candidates. Shortly after, it will have to decide on a successor for Jacques Rogge, president of the movement.
Thomas Bach, a German lawyer, is the favourite in the presidential race. But the decision over the 2020 host will be more difficult. Here’s what’s happened in the campaign so far and why the decision will be an uncomfortable one: Read more
They wanted an admission of cheating, an apology and some sense of remorse from Lance Armstrong.
They got that, within the first 90 seconds.
More memorably, they got a glimpse of a silver-tongued egomaniac as he justified his way through a one-and-a-half-hour sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.
The stories that the world’s most famous cyclist was a jerk (Oprah’s words, not mine) have circulated for years. This time, the world saw it first hand instead of reading about him threatening former teammates, cornering people in bars and publicly accusing them of being crazy and vindictive. Read more
Lance Armstrong. Photo: Getty
By Jennifer Hughes
Remember Greg LeMond? The name of the three-time Tour de France winner doesn’t resonate far outside of cycling now but as of today, he will be the only American to have won the race in US officials’ eyes.
Lance Armstrong’s decision not to contest further doping allegations levelled by anti-doping authorities means they consider him stripped of his record seven Tour titles. Armstrong’s and LeMond’s Tour-winning successor and compatriot, Floyd Landis, has already lost his 2006 win for doping. Read more
Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today:
London 2012: The first week of the Olympic games
FT sports writers Matthew Engel and Simon Kuper join Gideon Rachman to provide their mid-term assessment of the London Olympics.