With eight-year suspensions already handed out to the disgraced heads of FIFA and UEFA for their roles in a decades-long corruption scandal unearthed this summer, Santa didn’t even need to check twice here. Blatter may vow that ‘he’ll be back,’ but he won’t be on the nice list – probably forever. (We could say the same about many of his fellow FIFA delegates, currently awaiting trial.)
Getty ImagesShaun Botterill
Nice: Riyad Mahrez
Jamie Vardy may have gotten most of the headlines for Leicester City this season, but Santa likely hasn’t forgiven him for racially abusing a man at a casino this summer. Mahrez, meanwhile, is the revelation of the season, electrifying the EPL as both goal-scorer and Vardy’s primary set-up man. Joining Leicester for $900K two years ago, he’s now apparently worth $40+ million to the likes of Man United.
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
Naughty: Jose Mourinho
Mourinho was firmly on course for the nice list halfway through the year, but it all went downhill after winning the Premier League with Chelsea in May. It began with demoting and ostracizing team physio Eva Carneiro, which resulted in a hostile workplace lawsuit against the abrasive manager. His downfall came after the worst six-month title defense in Premier League history led to his sacking. How things change …
AFP/Getty ImagesIAN KINGTON
Nice: Cristiano Ronaldo
As narcissistic as Ronaldo may seem at times, he sure does a lot of wonderful things for those less privileged. Just a few days ago, Ronaldo agreed to fly out a young victim of November’s Beirut bombings to Madrid when he heard it was the boy’s lifelong dream to meet him. In May, CR7 sprang to the defense of a young Japanese fan who tried to ask him a question in broken Portuguese, chiding reporters who laughed at the fan.
Getty ImagesDenis Doyle
Naughty: Karim Benzema
Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, but it sure sounds like France’s Benzema has some things to answer for. Allegedly complying in attempted blackmail over a sex tape? Allegedly helping criminals, said to be “friends” of Benzema’s, extort money from a teammate? That lands you on the naughty list every year.
Getty ImagesJean Catuffe
Nice: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang / Robert Lewandowski/ Thomas Muller
No Bundesliga player has scored 30 or more goals in a season since Dieter Mueller did in 1977, but this year, three players could conceivably reach that magic number. The race for the Torjaegerkanone is the most exciting it’s been in years, as Lewandowski (15 goals) and Muller (14) are pouring it in for Bayern, while Dortmund’s Aubameyang (18 goals) is already just one strike shy of the winning total last season.
Naughty: Hope Solo/Abby Wambach
The longtime pillars of the USWNT certainly played their part in July’s World Cup triumph, but can Santa overlook their missteps this year? Probably not. Wambach has yet to apologize for anti-immigrant comments she made days before setting off into retirement, while Solo earned a 30-day suspension in January for misusing a team van with her husband while out partying – this while more details of a domestic violence case, still under court scrutiny – emerged.
Nice: Carli Lloyd
Many figured this would be the Women’s World Cup of Alex Morgan, or Abby Wambach or even Christen Press. In the end, the summer clearly belonged to Lloyd. Just as she had done for years, whenever the USWNT needed a goal it was the captain who delivered. After match-winners vs. China in the quarterfinals and Germany in the semis, Lloyd’s unforgettable hat trick vs. Japan in the final secured her place in national team lore – and on Santa’s nice list.
Getty ImagesHarry How
Naughty: Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones
U.S. stars Dempsey and Jones both picked up suspensions for confronting referees in 2015. Dempsey received a three-match suspension from MLS after ripping up a referee’s notebook during a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match in June. Jones topped that conflict with a six-match ban to start the 2016 season after making contact with Mark Geiger during New England’s playoff defeat at D.C. United in October.
Nice: Sebastian Giovinco
Giovinco turned heads when he swapped Juventus for Toronto FC prior to the start of the 2015 season. The Italy international received some criticism for joining MLS at this stage of his career, but he silenced his detractors by producing perhaps the best regular-season display in league history (22 goals, 16 assists) and scooping MVP honors in the process. The best part: Giovinco managed to keep his place in the Italy squad despite crossing the Atlantic.