One of the most beautiful values of sport, especially recognized as one of the main values of the Olympic spirit is fair play. This virtue is considered more and more rare, probably due to the time we live in which summarizes the high level sport to a huge business over-mediatized. Nevertheless, some athletes still use this value. Sometimes even during extremely striking gestures, which enter the History.
Let’s discover five acts of fair play that have marked the history of sport in the contemporary era, and have given us memorable moments.
1 – When Marcelo Bielsa, coach of Leeds, England, asked his players to let the opponent score.
Marcelo Bielsa, known as an excellent coach, is also a man with values, and many principles. We remember one of his sentences that became cult in the locker room of Olympique de Marseille, when the players were annoyed by the many refereeing errors during a match. “Don’t ask for anything, swallow the venom, accept the injustice, because everything balances out in the end” he said.
As proof, one afternoon in England, when the Leeds players, under Bielsa’s command, had just scored a very important goal against Aston Villa in the Championship, the Argentine coach gave his men a very strange instruction. He said that they should let the opponent score to equalize. Indeed, Marcelo Bielsa noticed that when his team scored the first goal, an Aston Villa player was seriously injured, creating an imbalance in the opponent’s defense, which facilitated the Leeds goal. Bielsa decided that the goal was worthless and asked his players to let the game be equalized.
Marcelo Bielsa, coach of Leeds United, England.
(Credits : Instagram @leedsunited)
2 – When two Olympic athletes decide to share a gold medal in Tokyo.
This image has made the world tour during the Olympic Games in Tokyo in August 2021. During the contest of high jump for men, two men fight very hard for the Gold medal. The Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim and the Italian Gianmarco Tamberi. As the two athletes could not decide between them, the judge of the event decided to propose a dilemma to the athletes “either you make a sudden death to designate the winner of the event, or you decide both, in agreement to win the event and share the first step of the podium. As soon as the judge finished his sentence, the two athletes jumped into each other’s arms to show their jubilation to everyone. A very rare gesture and a sign of immense fair play.
The Italian Gianmarco Tamberi and the Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim celebrating their gold medal on the podium of the high jump at the Tokyo Games.
(Credits : Instagram @mutaz.barshim)
3- A surprising mutual aid at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games….
We are during the semi-finals of the women’s 5000 meters of the Rio Olympics, in 2016. Two athletes are caught in a fall, the American Abbey D’Agostino and the New Zealander Nikki Hamblin. The American gets up first, and sees her opponent on the ground. Rather than go back on her own, she reached out to Hamblin, then, arm in arm, the two suffering athletes finished their races, without ever letting go of each other. Once the finish line crossed, they take themselves in the arms. Their race time will not allow them to qualify for the final, but the essential was elsewhere that day. Fair play.
Nikki Hamblin leans in to check on Abbey D’Agostino after their 5,000-meter semi-final at the Rio Games.
(Credits : Instagram @abbey_dags)
4- Miroslav Klose, great soccer player and great man.
In 2012, during a league match between Lazio Rome and Napoli, the mythical German striker Miroslav Klose scored a goal to open the score for Lazio. The goal was awarded by the referee, but the Napoli players rushed to him to obviously dispute something. Then Klose approaches the referee and admits that he touched the ball with his hand, asking him to cancel the goal. The referee did so. As a result, Napoli wins 3-0 in this match. But the next day in the press, it is not the score that will be talked about. Everyone is unanimous in Italy, the gesture of Miroslav Klose is admirable. Napoli’s captain, Fabio Cannavaro, even said after the match: “It’s a gesture that should be rewarded, I think that this kind of gesture should be considered as an example, especially for all the children who watch soccer.
Miroslav Klose, during a match with Lazio.
(Credits : Instagram @miroslav_klose)
5- When Jack Sock offers a point to Lleyton Hewitt…
Funny scene in 2016, during the Hopman Cup, in tennis, during the opposition between the American Jack Sock and the Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Indeed, while Hewitt had just served, his service is called fault by the referee. But Jack Sock thought the serve was valid. Hewitt was about to serve his second serve when Sock asked him to ask for a video challenge, which confirmed that his ball was valid. “It was inside, if you want to challenge it,” Sock said.
Hewitt hesitated, but Sock insisted. The Australian asked for a video challenge, and his ball was indeed validated, giving him the point. Hewitt even won the match 7-5, 6-4. Nice player Jack Sock.