The new year started on a grim note for world football, as sparkling Wolfsburg youngster Malanda lost his life on a slippery autobahn. The Belgian international was due to fly to a club training camp but was killed when the car he was a passenger in rolled over in wet conditions. About 1,000 people attended his memorial service.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesAlexander Koerner
Jan. 12 -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Nadine Kessler take top honors
Real Madrid’s Ronaldo and Wolfsburg’s Kessler collected soccer’s top individual honors in a glittering ceremony. CR7 beat out Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Bayern’s Manuel Neuer in the FIFA Ballon d’Or voting. Kessler topped Brazil legend Marta and USWNT forward Abby Wambach. It was Kessler’s first FIFA World Player of the Year win, and Ronaldo’s second FIFA Ballon d’Or (his third overall Ballon d’Or) since the Ballon d’Or merged with the FIFA Player of the Year in 2010.
Getty ImagesPhilipp Schmidli
Jan. 21 -- US Soccer suspends Hope Solo for 30 days
Troubled national team keeper Solo was suspended for 30 days after an incident involving a team vehicle that saw her husband, Jerramy Stevens, charged with DUI. Solo also had faced accusations of domestic violence in a high-profile court case that is still open.
Getty ImagesBrian Bahr
Feb. 8 -- Cote D’Ivoire win the Cup of Nations
Cote D’Ivoire won the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time on Feb. 8, after the tournament was moved from Morocco to Equatorial Guinea amid fears over the Ebola outbreak. Boubacar Barry scored the critical penalty in the tiebreak after the Ivoriens drew Ghana 0-0 in full time to give them a 9-8 shootout win.
AFP/Getty ImagesCARL DE SOUZA
March 18 -- Parma declared bankrupt
Parma’s sad spiral hit a new low with the arrest of owner Giampietro Manenti on money laundering charges. The club was subsequently declared bankrupt and closed shop, ending 101 years of existence.
Getty ImagesMarco Luzzani
March 19 -- FIFA approves December World Cup final for 2022
In a major step toward hosting this controversial World Cup in Qatar, FIFA announced the 2022 World Cup final will be held Dec. 18. The move ensures the World Cup will disrupt the schedules of domestic European clubs.
AFP/Getty ImagesKARIM JAAFAR
May 3 -- Chelsea win Premier League with three games to spare
The Blues wrapped up their fifth overall top-flight title with three games to spare, beating Crystal Palace and sparking wild celebrations. Manchester City would dominate the season-ending awards, however, as Sergio Aguero won the Golden Boot and Joe Hart was named keeper of the year for a record fourth time.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
May 17 -- Barcelona win La Liga for the seventh time in 10 seasons
The Catalonians wrapped up their 23rd title of all time with a big win over Atletico Madrid. In truth, the outcome was never in doubt as Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi combined for a 122 goals on the season, a Spanish football record.
AFP/Getty ImagesLLUIS GENE
May 27 -- FIFA implodes
The end of May saw the biggest story in world football as FIFA’s offices were raided by the US Department of Justice, which seized files and handing down indictments. American Chuck Blazer confessed to malfeasance and turned state’s evidence as well, as the scandal enveloped nearly every major figure in the world game. President Sepp Blatter showed defiance in the face of the charges …
AFP/Getty ImagesFABRICE COFFRINI
June 2 -- Blatter suddenly resigns amid FIFA scandal
… until June 2, when Blatter suddenly announced he was stepping down as the head of the embattled governing body. Elections would be scheduled, Blatter would be hospitalized, and it became clear that that FIFA’s dealings had been spectacularly dirty. December saw more arrests and guilty pleas as the probe continued to roil FIFA.
Getty ImagesAlessandro Della Bella
June 6 -- Barcelona beat Juventus to lift Champions League trophy, repeat the treble
In a game that felt anti-climactic, Barcelona thoroughly outplayed Juventus in a 3-1 win to become only the second European team to repeat the treble (domestic league, domestic cup and Champions League). Ivan Rakitic scored after just four minutes to set the tone in Berlin, but it was Luiz Suarez who netted the winner, sending Andrea Pirlo out of Italian football on a sour note.
VI-Images via Getty ImagesVI-Images
July 4 -- Chile beat Messi, Argentina to win Copa America
Hosts Chile stunned heavily favored Argentina in a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw to hoist their first ever Copa America. Ever Banega and Gonzalo Higuain blew their attempts from the spot to allow Alexis Sanchez to clinch the trophy for Chile as the shootout ended 4-1.
AFP/Getty ImagesNELSON ALMEIDA
July 5 -- Carli Lloyd leads USA to third World Cup triumph
Forget the turf, forget the lawsuits, and forget the FIFA scandal: the Women’s World Cup turned out to be a fantastic show in Canada, and the USA stormed to the title behind a determined show by Lloyd. She scored a hat trick in just 16 minutes to lead the Americans past China 5-2 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
July 22 -- USA crash out of Gold Cup 2-1 to Jamaica
While the American women were winning, the men were struggling. The USA blew a chance to clinch an automatic berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup, falling 2-1 to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals. The result put the Americans into a tailspin from which they have yet to fully recover.
Matthew Ashton - AMA
July 22 -- Mexico beat Panama -- but was the game fixed?
On the same night the USA fell to Jamaica, Mexico downed Panama 2-1 with Mark Geiger awarding two very late penalties to El Tri. Panama’s FA chief, Pedro Chaluja, immediately said the game had been rigged – and with CONCACAF heavily implicated in the FIFA scandal, many believed he might have a case. The match commissioner subsequently acknowledged, 'officiating errors had been made … which impacted the game.'
Getty ImagesMike Zarrilli
July 26 -- Mexico win the Gold Cup for the tenth time …
Shaking off the controversy, Mexico promptly put Jamaica to the sword, 3-1 in the Gold Cup final, with Andres Guardado leading the charge. All was right for Mexico, right? Uh, nope …
Getty ImagesPatrick Smith
July 28 -- … and then fire their coach after he attacks a journalist
Miguel Herrera found himself out of a job after he allegedly punched a TV reporter in the neck following a heated confrontation at an airport. He was sacked shortly thereafter, denying all of us countless GIFs and Vines of El Piojo’s glorious celebrations.
Matthew Ashton - AMA
Aug. 9 -- The Curse of Carneiro?
This date may go down as the day when Chelsea’s title defense came off the rails. In a bizarre incident, manager Jose Mourinho berated club doctor Eva Carneiro for treating the injured Eden Hazard after she was waved onto the field by the referee. Carneiro was never allowed to work again at Chelsea, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against Mourinho and the club. Chelsea went into a tailspin they have yet to fully recover from.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
Sept. 22 -- Robert Lewandowski scores five goals inside 10 minutes
The Bundesliga has been a dead rubber since week four, with Bayern Munich simply annihilating all comers. But one moment will stand out for years to come. Entering a game as a sub against Wolfsburg with Bayern trailing 1-0, Lewandowski exploded for five goals – each better than the last – in nine minutes. No mas, Lewy!
Getty ImagesBoris Streubel
Nov. 13 -- Paris hit by terror, tragedy
The video from Nov. 13 is eerie: as France’s players take the ball downfield at the Stade de France against Germany, dull thumps are suddenly heard throughout the ground. They are explosions, from attackers attempting to enter the stadium as part of a coordinated attack across the capital that would leave 128 people dead. The repercussions of the attack are still being felt, but what is sure is that world football may never be the same.
AFP/Getty ImagesFRANCK FIFE
Nov. 17 -- England and France stand in solidarity
Four days after the attacks in Paris, with France grieving, their national team came to Wembley for an emotional game. The English fans serenaded the team with La Marseillaise, and Wembley was lit up in the French colors for the occasion. It was a remarkable demonstration of solidarity in the face of terror and a reminder of how sports can heal and unify like no other pastime.
Getty ImagesCatherine Ivill - AMA
Nov. 17 -- Germany-Holland game called off after 'credible' terror threat
On the same day England and France stood together, Hannover had to be evacuated as a 'credible' terror attack threat forced the late postponement of a friendly between Germany and Holland. For the Germans, who had been held overnight at the Stade de France during the attacks, it was another reminder of just how much the world was changing.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesStuart Franklin
Nov. 21 -- Barcelona blow by Real Madrid
No Messi? No problem: Barcelona put Real Madrid to the sword in the first clasico of the season behind sparkling shows from Neymar and Luis Suarez. The 4-0 scoreline was no illusion – it could have been even greater – and the result piled more pressure on embattled manager Rafa Benitez. Real were whistled off the field by their own fans.
ReutersReuters / Stringer
Dec. 1 -- Sponsors urge FIFA to enact reforms
The temperature was raised on FIFA when five sponsors wrote an open letter, appealing the embattled body to enact meaningful reforms. Some criticized the gesture by Visa, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as too little too late – but there is no denying it was eye-opening.
Getty ImagesHarold Cunningham
Dec. 6 -- Portland stop Columbus to win MLS Cup
It wasn’t pretty, but Cascadia won’t care: Portland scored inside the first minute to go on to a 2-1 win and raise their first trophy in their 40 year history. The match was no ad for the American game, but so what? It was exciting if error-strewn, and the city of Portland – which had not won anything since the Trail Blazers took the NBA title 1977 – partied like mad in celebration.