Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Playboy Flavio Booted from F1 Money Circus

Before recently I believed that cheating in sport amounted to nothing more than actions created by the will to win. I thought that although these actions (such as diving in Football, time wasting in Tennis, punching in Rugby) were unsavoury they were still just within the laws of their respective games.

The recent cheating related scandals(some that I have blogged on) have shown that certain individuals are willing to win at what ever cost. Maybe this was always going to be inevitable with corporate sponsors drilling money into sport and thereby up the stakes of every game played and every race that is run.

One sport that attracts huge money, and enjoys flaunting it at the same time, is F1 racing. The brain child of Bernie 'lock up your 20 something daughters' Ecclestone, F1 is almost completely dependent on its fat pocketed sponsors and the controversy that stems from the racing teams scrambling to snatch those sponsors riches.

Both Maclaren and Renault have in the past been found guilty of underhand dealings such as the stealing of information from other teams. The latest upheld allegations are however truly in a league of their own. Flavio Briatore told Nelson Piquet to crash his car on a circuit, filled with windscreen-less racing cars, surrounded by fans and stewards. Having watched the crash, its safe to say that Flavio probably told Piquet to do a good job of crashing too. Debris covered the track meaning that the safety car had to come out and coincidentally hand the race victory to Fernando Alonso (Piquets team mate).

Briatore even had the audacity, before the allegations were shown to be clearly true, to threaten Piquet with a lawsuit for blackmail to try and deflect blame from himself. Now he has been uncovered as one of the most corrupt cheats in sports history. These actions have brought some people (James Lawton in the Independent) to suggest that sport itself is under attack and that cheating is an epidemic.

Frankly cheating is not the disease in sport, money is! Look at all the sports where cheating takes place the most; Football, F1, Cycling and countless others. 50 years ago there was minimal money to be made from any of these now the difference between 1st and 2nd can be millions of pounds. People now dedicate their lives to sport because they can make money from it. Therefore cheating to get ahead was always inevitably going to happen (just as it does in business for example). At least though in some sports such as Football and NFL steps are now being taken to make sure that this lust for profit doesn't choke the respective games to death.

This is where F1 is different from other sports though. F1's fans love the over the top, cash rich, characters that the sport creates. The more cash and the more greed the better. Briatore himself was an F1 pin up. He was never without a super model in tow and always looked like he had just stepped off the cat walk. He is also a Multi Millionaire. Indeed F1 is as much about money as it is sport. This is clear to see when you look at certain races that fill the F1 calender 'Monaco', 'Abu Dhabi', and 'Bahrain'. In short People that like F1 either have money or want money, but they cannot possibly care about sport.

To say that 'F1 is fanning the flames of an out of control fire of cheating in sport' is not accurate. Instead F1 is in the process of only burning itself to the ground with cash being the main fuel. To be honest I couldn't care less if it does. There are other driving championships and even motorbike championships that are far more entertaining and that haven't been over run with money. I just don't care if these rich playboys want to cheat each other out of race wins any more. At least I can relate to a rugby player getting hit, or a footballer diving, or a tennis player time wasting. I will never be able to relate to smashing a £5 million car into a wall and I certainly can't relate to someone as old as my Grandpa dating a teenager.

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