A quick google search provides one very clear answer for ‘Sport Capital of the world’ as the top 5 search results all point to one place: Melbourne, Australia.
Melbourne’s sporting credentials include the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, Grand Slam tennis and Formula One Grand Prix. Granted, this is an okay list, but does this list really justify the, rather bold claim to ‘Sport Capital of the World’?
The Criteria and the Nominations
If there were an official title to give away, what would be the criteria you would measure the nominees against? The Sport Capital of the World should have:
- Internationally successful local sports teams
- Local sports icons that have excelled on a global level
- Important international sport events in its past and future
- A significant amount of governing bodies or important sports officials
- An internationally known sports venue approaching ‘shrine-like status’
My nominations for the title are (in alphabetical order):
Nominee 1: London, United Kingdom – 12,875,000
London will be host to one of the world’s biggest sport events in 2012; the Summer Olympics. This will make London the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times (1908, 1948 & 2012). In addition the modern game of soccer, the world’s biggest sport, was first codified in 1863 in London and subsequently spread worldwide.
London’s legendary Wembley Stadium provided the venue for the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, won by England. The new Wembley Stadium will host the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. The Premier League currently features five London clubs: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Fulham and West Ham United. There are also eight London clubs in the fully professional Football League.
London boasts two legendary test cricket grounds: Lord’s and The Oval and the English national rugby stadium, arguably the most legendary stadium in global rugby, is (in) Twickenham. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of the Wimbledon Championships, is in Wimbledon in south London. Every April since 1981, London has hosted one of the world’s largest mass-participation marathons, the London Marathon. The, London Triathlon, the largest triathlon event in the world, also takes place annually. The River Thames is the venue for the world’s most famous Boat Race, held between Oxford and Cambridge universities every year.
Famous athletes from London include; Sebastian Coe, David Beckham and Bobby Moore
Nominee 2: New York City, USA – 19,750,000
The New York City metropolitan area has nine teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues, each of which also has its headquarters in the city; the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Its sport legacy boasts the New York Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Islanders, New Jersey Nets (soon to be in Brooklyn!), New Jersey Devils and the MLS New York Red Bulls. The area was also home to the New York Cosmos, arguably the most popular American soccer team ever. In 2014, the New Meadowlands Stadium will host Super Bowl XLVIII.
The U.S. Open is the fourth and final event of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments and is held annually in late summer at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. The ING New York City Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the world.
Both Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden are amongst the most legendary sports venues in history. Iconic athletes who made their name in the Big Apple include; Lou Gehrig, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Julius Erving and Mike Tyson.
Nominee 3: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 10,556,000
Rio de Janeiro will host the two biggest events in global sports this decade. In 2014 it will host the Final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Only two years later, Rio de Janeiro will be the centre of the international sports world once again as it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics!
Rio of course has many professional football clubs, amongst which “Flamengo” and “Fluminense”, protagonists of one of the most high profiled grudge matches in the World. Also from Rio are “Vasco da Gamma” and “Botafogo”. All four teams have won the national football championship and the “Copa Libertadores de America” (the main football championship in Latin America).
In addition Rio de Janeiro boasts one of the biggest and most legendary football stadiums in the world: the Maracana Stadium. It is here where some of football biggest stars like Pele, Garincha, Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kaka have played.
Other notable sports events in Rio include the MotoGP Brazilian Grand Prix and the world Beach Volleyball finals. As part of its preparations to host the 2007 Pan American Games, the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange was build. It was named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president João Havelange.Finally the beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema are probably the most well-known, are excellent places to do all kinds of sports. They are very actively used, mainly for “fute volei” (volleyball without using your hands) or “frescobol” a type of beach tennis, but also for swimming, surfing and yachting. Well known athletes from Rio include; racecar driver Nelson Piquet, Ronaldo, Romário and beach volleyball legends Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires.
Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, may we have your votes please?!
Which city do YOU believe is most worthy of the title Sport Capital of the World, or … do you believe it should be Melbourne after all? Below you’ll find a very short and incomplete sports profile of each of the nominees. Please do feel free to provide additional background and elaborate on your vote.
Looking forward to your comments, input and …your votes!