Chapman Freeborn looks ahead at the year of sport
With images of Lionel Messi finally lifting the World Cup still fresh in the mind, sports fans, teams, associations and sponsors now turn their attention to what lies in store in 2023.
Here we look at the biggest sporting events of the next 12 months.
Don’t rule out Messi hogging the headlines again, this time in the Champions League. But there are also World Cups in store for women’s football and men’s rugby union.
12 February: Rihanna at the Super Bowl
AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Super Bowl LVII is staged at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona this year and pop legend Rihanna will star in the halftime show – her first live performance for more than five years.
29 April-6 May: The 148th Kentucky Derby
HORSE RACING: The Kentucky Derby takes place on the famous dirt track of Churchill Downs, Louisville on 6 May and is the culmination of 37 race days across the season.
The first jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing, it sees horses and spectators arrive from all over the world and is a week-long celebration steeped in history. It was first held in 1875.
10 June: Will Messi win the Champions League Final?
FOOTBALL: Lionel Messi can fulfil another dream this year, having just won his first ever World Cup with Argentina
The victory over France in a stunning final seemed to be written in the stars as the former Barcelona man lifted the one trophy which had eluded him in a glittering career.
But it may not be the last hurrah.
Pencil in Saturday 10 June, because that’s the date of the Champions League Final at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, and it should be one of the biggest occasions of 2023. It’s the perfect choice for a corporate hospitality trip.
Messi has won the trophy before with Barcelona, but his club, PSG, is still dreaming of doing so for the first time.
With the group stages already completed, the knockout phase begins on 14 February when Messi’s PSG face German champions Bayern Munich in the last 16. The round also sees Liverpool face Real Madrid in a glamour tie.
June-July: Double Ashes in England
CRICKET: England v Australia is cricket’s biggest fixture and there are men’s and women’s Ashes to look forward to in June and July
England’s men are on a roll under new coach Brendon McCullum and new captain Ben Stokes, following an historic victory in Pakistan. They play a five-Test series against the Aussies from 16 June-31 July with action at Edgbaston, Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval.
The women’s Ashes is also in England, from 22 June-18 July, and features one Test match, three T20s and three One Day internationals.
3-16 July: Will it be Novak or Rafa on Centre Court?
TENNIS: Wimbledon takes place entirely during July this year, from the 3rd to 16th, and although Roger Federer has retired there is still the opportunity to see Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal in action – the latter possibly for the last time.
Andy Murray also hopes to roll back the years and there’s strong home interest in the women’s singles where Emma Raducanu will be in action.
July-August: Now it’s time for the women’s World Cup
FOOTBALL: After Argentina’s men’s team won in Qatar in 2022, the women take centre stage this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
It is being billed as the biggest ever women’s World Cup with 32 teams taking part, including holders USA and newly-crowned European champions, England.
Twenty-nine of the spots have already been claimed, with a play-off tournament to come in February to decide the final three.
August: The world’s greatest athletes head to Budapest
ATHLETICS: Budapest hosts the World Championships between 19-27 August and 50,000 tickets were sold within four days of going on sale.
Look out for a battle between Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigsten and Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei in the long-distance events. And, of course, the men’s 100m final in which USA’s Frank Kerley defends his title.
Jamaica’s five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah has won everything possible in athletics – except individual sprint gold at the Worlds. This could be her year.
8 September-28 October; Rugby’s turn in the world spotlight
RUGBY UNION: Football isn’t the only sport with a glamorous World Cup to offer. The Rugby World Cup takes place across France in September and October and celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the game.
On the field, South Africa will be attempting to defend the title they won in Japan. But France, just like their football counterparts, are tipped to do well on home soil – not to mention the All Blacks.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland will also have huge support so close to home.
The tournament opens in Paris on Friday 8 September with a gripping group stage game between France and New Zealand in Paris.
Other group highlights include England v Argentina and South Africa v Scotland (both in Marseille), South Africa v Ireland in Paris, and Wales v Australia in Lyon. Look out, too, for Portugal in their first ever World Cup finals appearance.
The final will be played in the Stade de France, Paris, on Saturday 28 October and will be one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
Most tickets for the tournament have already sold, but a ticket resale platform is being launched in January to offer fans a second chance.
Host cities include Paris, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse – providing the perfect opportunity to build a holiday or team trip around the rugby.
September: Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup back-to-back in Europe
GOLF: There’s a treat in store for golf fans this autumn, with the women in action at the Solheim Cup in Malaga from 22-25 September, as Europe defend the trophy, and the men playing the Ryder Cup in Rome from 29 September to 1 October, with the USA aiming for back-to-back victories.
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