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Who has failed the hardest at hosting a major sporting event?

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YOU would think if there’s one thing FIFA could do right, it would be organising an international football tournament.

But, as if an ongoing corruption scandal wasn’t enough, world sport’s most controversial governing body is copping it from all angles over the state of the surfaces at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The tournament is now underway and promises to be one of the most competitive and exciting Women’s World Cups to date, with more teams (24) involved in the finals this year than ever before.

But there is one big problem which has loomed from day one, and which threatens to overshadow the whole event.

Despite heavy campaigning from current players, former stars and athletes’ unions in the two years leading up to Canada 2015, FIFA and local organisers have refused to change out the artificial turf pitches at all six venues.

This is a big issue for many reasons. For one, gender equality advocates have pointed out that there is no way in heck a Men’s World Cup would ever be played on synthetic grounds.

But not only does fake turf play and feel different to all-grass and advanced hybrid pitches, it also poses a significant safety risk to the players.

Plastic pitches tend to overheat in warm conditions and can be very abrasive on the skin. Just ask Australia’s Sam Kerr, who tweeted this picture after a synthetic session with the Matildas squad in 2013:

Kerr Astro turf
Sydney Leroux Dwyer of the US Women’s National Team had a similar message for the tournament’s organising committee:

Dwyer Astro Turf

Up to 50 players now at the 2015 World Cup even pursued legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association, including star names such as USA’s Abby Wambach and Germany’s Nadine Angerer, although they withdrew their case in January this year due to the defendants’ obstinance.

With all this nonsense going on, we at started wondering: has FIFA, or anyone else, ever made such an unnecessary shambles of a major international sporting event?

Here are just a few of the most farcical beauties from the last few years.

2008 Champions League Final, Moscow

Advocates of keeping the artificial pitches in Canada may well cite the 2008 UEFA Champions League final as a big reason for doing so.

In order to gain hosting rights for the biggest match in European club football, the operators of the Luzhniki Stadium laid 35mm of natural grass and earth on top of the incumbent FieldTurf synthetic pitch.

Concerns over player safety and pitch quality were rife in the weeks leading up to the decider. The unsure surface would play a big part in Manchester United’s eventual victory, with Chelsea captain John Terry famously slipping over during the penalty shootout.

Terry slip
Jason Terry’s slip highlighted a sub-standard surface for one of soccer’s biggest matches.

2010 Commonwealth Games, New Delhi

The 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games is best remembered for just about everything except the sport.

The organisation and infrastructure at Delhi 2010 was an absolute mess. A bridge collapsed a few days out from the event; stadiums were barely ready by the time the opening ceremony came around; the athletes’ lodgings were widely decried as dirty, poorly built and unfit for human habitation.

Top it all off with corruption allegations and an outbreak of dengue fever, and you have the recipe for one of the worst-managed major sporting events in living memory.

Delhi games
The last Commenwealth Games in Delhi were labeled a disaster

2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil 

If the most recent staging of Copa Mundial is anything to go by, the IOC should be nervous ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Already in crippling debt and suffering from mass poverty, Brazil was always a dicey selection. Swarms of protesters made that clear during the 2013 Confederations Cup a year out from the main event.

There was plenty of good football played at Brazil 2014, but bad logistics, civil unrest and the sheer wastefulness of it all left a bad taste in the mouths of many observers the world over.

FIFA Brazil
FIFA’s last World Cup in Brazil was rife with civil unrest.

2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi

Much like Berlin 1936 was Hitler’s Olympics and Italy 1934 was Mussolini’s World Cup, the most recent installment of the Winter Olympiad was all about Vladimir Putin and his shady regime in Russia.

On a political front, Sochi 2014 was a baffling affair. Strict immigration laws had to be adjusted in order to allow many athletes to attend at all, while Russia’s controversial anti-homosexual legislation was a constant talking point.

Then there was the cost. With over US $50 billion spent on upgrading stadiums and infrastructure, the Sochi Games were the most expensive in all of Olympic history. But fancy roads and pretty venues could not overcome the harsh realities athletes and visitors alike faced in Putin’s Russia.

Sochi protest
The world came together to protest Russia’s homophobic laws ahead of Sohi 2014 games.
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