Even in a year when so much top level sport was postponed or truncated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, there were still plenty of controversies and scandals throughout the year.

In 2019, racism dominated football while the likes of James Maddison, Pep Guardiola, Saracens, London Irish and Alberto Salazar all dominated the news for negative reasons.

Sports stars, clubs, federations and brands have all suffered when scandal strikes and as sports crisis communications experts, here are some of the major sports crises of the past 12 months and what lessons can be learnt to avoid encountering the…


Liverpool players take the knee in memory of George Floyd

The death of George Floyd has shocked the world, broadcast across social media channels after disturbing footage of a police officer kneeling on his neck went viral.

It has provoked riots and protests across the United States, leading to more incidents of police brutality with even reporters being arrested or shot at by law enforcement officers.

The uproar over social injustice in the United States and beyond has prompted sports stars and organisations to speak out — but is it enough?

Going back almost a century, the legendary Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in…


The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on not just the world of sport, but society at large.

With travel bans in place, major events postponed or cancelled and a widespread threat to health, it’s vital to ensure your organisation has robust crisis management plans in place.

Whether you work in sport or not, here is the Calacus Checklist to ensure you address the challenges the pandemic and other unforeseen crises can provoke.

1. Undertake a regular crisis audit

What are the biggest risks to your business or organisation?

The coronavirus has laid bare the importance of planning for…


Mo Salah kisses the Champions League trophy

One of the enduring images of the 2018 UEFA Champions League final was that of Mo Salah walking off little more than half an hour into the game with an injured shoulder.

The Footballer of the Year, with more than 40 goals to his name in his debut season for Liverpool, left the field in tears and the Reds went on to lose the game 3–1 to Real Madrid.

It was a sad end to a glorious season.

There was some form of symmetry that he would score the opening goal in Liverpool’s 2–0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the…


While sport should entertain and inspire, there are always likely to be crises that dominate the news agenda throughout the year.

In 2017, major sports personalities including Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, and Wayne Rooney hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after misdemeanours in their private and professional lives.

It’s fair to say that 2018 was no different and as with life in general, the greatest mistake we can make is to ignore the lessons of the past.

Sports stars, clubs, federations and brands have all suffered when scandal strikes and as sports crisis communications experts, here are some of…


There was a time when it seemed as if Jose Mourinho could walk on water.

After leading Porto to Champions League success, he joined the Roman Abramovich revolution at Chelsea and created a team that formed the bedrock for a decade of success.

Having announced himself as ‘The Special One’ upon his arrival in West London, his status did not wane when he left Chelsea. He went on to win the Champions League again with Inter Milan and then more titles at Real Madrid.

But things began to unravel towards the end of his second spell at Chelsea, where, having…


Mesut Ozil has made himself unavailable for Germany

As an Arsenal fan, I get to watch Mesut Ozil regularly and I have to admit, his somewhat languid style often gives the impression that he is not fighting as hard as he might for the team.

Reviewing the statistics after most games paint a picture of someone who runs around more than most, creates more chances and has a greater influence than may at first appear. The absence of short sprints and fist pumping conceals Ozil’s deeper commitment.

When Germany went out in the Group stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1938, criticism seemed to…


There’s always been huge expectation about the England football team.

The fact that England created the rules for the modern game has always put huge pressure on the national team manager and his players.

Tournament after tournament, the England team have disappointed or fallen short, most often after the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

Ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer, it’s fair to say that the level of expectation was not as high as for previous squads, although England’s early Group stage victories resulted in the inevitable declarations that “It’s coming home!”

But there is no doubt…


The fallout following a rape trial involving Ireland and Ulster players has dominated the news in Northern Ireland for some time.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were cleared of rape in March but such has been the depth of feeling surrounding the case that protests and declarations of support have overshadowed on-field performances.

WhatsApp messages read out in court were derogatory towards women to say the least, giving an insight into lad culture and a world where professional sportsmen treat women with little or no respect.

This sorry affair has brought to the fore a national conversation about sex education…


Images of a passenger being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight dominated the news recently.

And then a flight attendant was filmed challenging a passenger to a fight at the front of an aircraft cabin.

That was followed by a giant rabbit dying on a United flight, resulting in a five-figure pay-out.

‘United Airlines PR disaster’ currently has more than three million hits on Google. For an airline which boasts the slogan ‘fly the friendly skies,’ the fact that the incident came so soon after two teenagers were blocked from a flight for wearing leggings underlines consistent mismanagement.

The…

David Alexander

David Alexander, founder of @Calacus_PR consultancy & CIPR Chartered Practitioner. Proud father & husband. Avid fan of Arsenal & Italy.

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