Belfast Telegraph

Carl Frampton a winner regardless of BBC

Editor's Viewpoint

There is a considerable degree of anger in Northern Ireland due to the fact our double world champion boxer Carl Frampton has not been shortlisted for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Those who chose the nominees had a difficult job, because there are many great achievers in all branches of sport.

A lot of people, including Frampton himself, believe that the favourite this year is tennis player Andy Murray.

However, it is extraordinary that Carl is not even on the shortlist; neither are Jonathan Rea and Bethany Firth, who also achieved outstanding success this year.

All three have a strong case for making the shortlist because of their records internationally, and it is not hard to understand why some people accuse the BBC of an anti-Northern Ireland bias.

Frampton suggested that this could be the case.

This is a serious claim by a sportsman who has done much to bridge the community divide.

Criticism has also come from First Minister Arlene Foster, as well as Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan, who won a world title and also the BBC award many years ago. DUP MP Sammy Wilson has made the serious charge of a BBC "elitist and anti-working class bias". Doubtless the corporation, as usual, will defend itself, and it will point to a wide output from Northern Ireland, including last year's Sports Personality Award being broadcast from Belfast.

It is also worth noting that such local sporting luminaries and outstanding achievers as Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke have never won this particular accolade, even when they were shortlisted.

It is no surprise that feelings run high when people believe that Northern Ireland is being snubbed.

Yet there is no point in contemplating boycotts, which are counterproductive.

The reality remains that all our sports stars speak for themselves through their achievements, and not necessarily because they win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

In some respects the entire annual award ceremony is a self-indulgent and back-slapping exercise by the corporation, which is never slow to show off.

Frampton has not made this year's list, but he is a worthy world champion and an outstanding boxer and role model for the province. That's what really counts.

Belfast Telegraph


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