Tears of sadness, disappointments, anger or simply impatience. Many events in 2016 brought us these negative emotions. Here’s a review of what we won’t miss in 2017.
Like every year, 2016 brought its fair share of emotions and we might argue the bad have outnumbered positive ones. Here’s what we think is most worth remembering.
10. Not with us anymore
A long list of sporting legends passed away over the last 12 months, including Cesare Maldini, João Havelange and Carlos Alberto. Those leaving far too early include Johan Cruijff. And while she wasn’t celebrated for sports, let’s not forget Zaha Hadid, the world-famous architect whose first winning stadium design is growing in Qatar.
9. MLS not for Miami?
David Beckham’s plans of landing an MLS franchise have been deadlocked in recent months. Establishing a new team is dependent on a purpose-built stadium, which just isn’t coming along as hoped. It’s been on the table since 2014 but three concepts were denied progress. Since January 2016 the official bid includes a proposed Overtown stadium, but here we are a year after announcement and still no details of the stadium are available. In recent weeks MLS have urged Beckham to make progress or he might be out of the competition for a league spot.
8. Stade de France with no competition
December’s election in French Rugby Federation brought a major upset for proponents of France’s second national stadium. New president Bernard Laporte announced he would not pursue the €600 million dream. That’s good news for Stade de France, but arguably worse for the FFR who have spent significant resources since 2013 to make France’s next best stadium come alive.
7. Falling behind again and again and again
While construction delays are nothing new or rare for stadium projects, these three have been embarrassingly late and all set to end in 2016. Well, it happened for neither of these large stadiums. Wanda Metropolitano, Stadion Śląski and Zenit Arena were all rescheduled for opening in 2017. Sure, we knew of Atletico Madrid’s delays for a long time, but each of these stadiums has been under construction far longer than usual, since 2011, 2009 and 2006, respectively. And yes, we cannot wait to see them in use, so fingers crossed for 2017!
6. Olympics not that desirable
In late 2015 Hamburg officially withdrew their bid for the 2024 Olympics. In 2016 Rome followed suit and now only three cities remain in the race: Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris. That’s the single shortest list since 1981, when only two candidates were running for the 1988 Olympics. It’s clear that IOC’s Agenda 2020 recommendations haven’t proven enough so far, hosting of the Olympics is still too expensive and provides very limited (yet costly!) legacy for the host cities.
5. West Ham’s relocation headache
It was supposed to be Premier League’s biggest change in 2016 but enthusiasm from the first game didn’t last long. As the 2016/17 season progressed, displeasure and chaos followed. Brawls within WHU sections, fights with away supporters, constant conflict between sitting and standing fans, hardly helpful statements by the club themselves – all this made relocation to London Stadium a real headache for West Ham and their fans. Add to that further increase of taxpayer spending on the stadium’s conversion and you have what’s a very disappointing opening period for a football stadium. That is not to say WHU won’t be happy with their new home in the long run, but that’s hardly the scenario they were hoping for…
4. Legendary stadia gone
As every year, some of the world’s most well known stadiums have been demolished. We’d like to give special mention to two of them: Boleyn Ground and Ferenc Puskas Stadium. The first one had hosted West Ham games for 112 years before being simply demolished for a new housing estate. The second giant had to make way for perhaps even greater new stadium, worthy of Hungary’s football traditions. Still, we’ll miss them both.
3. Too little, too late, Qatar
2016 was another year of human and worker rights organizations slamming Qatar for their laws and practices. Formally only a few people had died at stadium construction sites for the 2022 World Cup, but unofficial numbers are more worrying, as coffins fly to Nepal, Bangladesh or India in high numbers.
In late 2016 Qatar showcased their new cooling helmet project, hoping to boost worker safety and comfort. They also introduced a reform of local labour law, but the reform falls far short of expectations as it only softens the existing ‘kafala’ system rather than abolishing it. Meanwhile, construction of the first stadium is almost finished already. Time for improvement is slowly running out.
Football has seen several similar disasters in history, but it’s the sort of wound that hardly ever heals. This time Brazilian finalists of Copa Sudamericana were hit by airplane catastrophe which killed 71 people, almost all players and staff of the club, as well as journalists and cabin crew. Great signs of solidarity throughout the football world may be of comfort to Verdão, but they’re facing years of mourning and rebuilding.
1. Terrorists at the gates
After the 2015 Paris attack football authorities woke up to the reality of terrorists targeting stadiums. This proved more apparent in 2016 as several plots were stopped, most notably in Albania and Saudi Arabia, while in a couple other cases terrorists succeeded. Just the two attacks in Iskandariyah and Istanbul killed nearly 80 people after local football games. We can only wish for 2017 to be much better in this regard!