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Worst sporting moments of the year: England run marred by fans and racism

| 22.12.2021

The sporting lows of 2021

Although 2021 will be remembered for some astonishing sporting triumphs like British teenager Emma Radacanu’s US Open victory as a qualifier and Phil Mickelson’s stunning success at the US PGA Championship, there were also some lowlights.

England’s run to the Euro 2020 final was marred by some unsavoury moments before and after the penalty shoot-out loss against Italy.

Here, we look at some of the worst sporting moments of the year, starting with that Wembley defeat in July.

Euro 2020 final

As if losing to Italy on penalties was not bad enough, the racism directed at some of England’s players and the chaotic scenes in and around Wembley ensured the Euro 2020 final will go down as a shameful moment in English football history.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were bombarded with racist abuse on social media after their misses in the shoot-out, while more than 20 “near-misses” which could have resulted in serious injury or death were identified in a review of the reckless behaviour of ticketless individuals who tried, and in some cases succeeded, to gain entry to the stadium.

Christian Eriksen

Earlier in the tournament, Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half of his side’s opening game against Finland.

Christian Eriksen, worst sporting moments of the year

The distressing scenes of Eriksen suddenly collapsing and receiving treatment on the pitch were seen around the world and Denmark’s team doctor Morten Boesen later confirmed that the former Tottenham player “was gone” prior to being resuscitated.

Denmark’s captain Simon Kjaer was one of the first players on the scene and appeared to clear Eriksen’s airways before his anxious team-mates formed a protective ring around him as he received treatment.

Ryder Cup defeat

Europe went into their defence of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as underdogs given the strength of the United States team, but few could have imagined the result proving so overwhelmingly one-sided.

Rory McIlroy, worst sporting moments of the year

Padraig Harrington’s side slumped to a record 19-9 defeat as a US team boasting 12 players all ranked inside the world’s top 21 lived up to their reputations and laid down a worrying marker for future contests.

Undoubtedly, one of the worst sporting moments of the year – from Europe’s perspective.

Rahm suffers double Covid-19 blow

Jon Rahm looked set to make a successful defence of his title in the prestigious Memorial Tournament after completing his third round with a six-shot lead, only to be told before he left the 18th green that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and had to withdraw.

The world number one bounced back brilliantly to win his first major title in the US Open 15 days later, only to test positive again shortly before the Olympics and have to miss the Games in Tokyo.

Tiger Woods’ car accident

Woods was travelling at almost twice the legal speed limit of 45mph when he crashed his car in Los Angeles in February, the 15-time major winner surviving “what would otherwise have been a fatal crash” because the interior of his vehicle remained largely intact, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Tiger Woods, worst sporting moments of the year

Woods required surgery on open fractures to his lower right leg and further injuries to his foot and ankle and said at one point he feared that his right leg could be amputated.

The American made his comeback at the PNC Championship in December alongside his son, but his near fatal crash just outside Los Angeles will always be remembered as one of the worst sporting moments of the year.

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Warren Barner