Football, or soccer, as it is called in most parts of the world, has always attracted massive interest worldwide. Naturally, with almost every nation playing football, the world of football comes up with many memorable moments (some of them not too pleasant) to keep in mind. These, additionally, shape up the near future of football, too. While some involve million-pound deals, others are controversies that arise from the millions of pounds. Here’s looking at some of the most interesting headlines that rocked the world of our beloved sport, in 2015.
Rewind 2015: The Year of Football:
The FIFA corruption controversy
On Monday, December 21, long-standing FIFA President Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter and football legend Michel Platini were banned from the sport for eight years by an independent Ethics committee within FIFA. While Blatter served as the President, Platini was the Vice-President of FIFA.
The controversy has had a long-drawn proceeding, with the legendary duo accused of money laundering and bribery, along with controversially giving Qatar the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup – the 22nd edition of the most-watched sporting tournament in the world. Accusations rose out of a $2 million payment that Platini received from Blatter, based on “deferred payment”, and without any confirmed paperwork or administrative record found for the same, the two men who have led international football’s governing body have now been given marching orders from the main arena.
Record breakers: Messi and Ronaldo
No football saga is ever complete without the two Gods of the game – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Keeping at their usual business, Messi and Ronaldo have kept on breaking records, and writing their names on the pages of history. Together, Messi and Ronaldo have scored a collective total of 106 goals in the calendar year of 2015, a tally that is higher than what many teams have achieved.
As if such meteoric shattering of every possible record was not enough, Messi has also accomplished the task of photobombing his contemporary and rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, at 2015’s Champions League group stage draw. The moment is soaked in unprecedented banter, and has formed for one of the best photographs ever taken of the two great footballers, together.
Argentina’s trophy drought
After the last-minute World Cup final loss in 2014, Lionel Messi led Argentina to the finals of 2015’s Copa America, facing Chile in the final hurdle. Argentina were widely regarded as favourites, with the likes of Di Maria, Higuain and Pastore making a star-studded Argentine lineup. Somehow, an international medal continued to avoid Messi and Co., with the game ending 0-0 at full time, and Chile holding on to beat Argentina 4-1 in penalties. Argentina has made it to two international tournament finals, and lost both at the death.
Massive money spent in transfers
The money bills seem to forever be on the rise, and 2015 has been no exception, either. While Argentine genius Angel Di Maria made an extravagant entry into the Premier League with Manchester United a year ago for a transfer fee of £59.7 million (a British transfer record), a fallout in playing preferences and personal life led to his swift exit to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, for a sizeable sum of £44 million. United did make a small loss, but this gave way to the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin (£25 million from Southampton) and Memphis Depay (£25 million from PSV Eindhoven) to arrive at Old Trafford.
Another widely circulated transfer saga was Real Madrid’s pursuit of Manchester United’s young goalkeeper, David de Gea.
After an entire summer window of negotiations, Manchester United, the two parties finally agreed on a £29 million deal for the Spanish goalkeeper, who is now regarded as one of the world’s best. Sadly for Real Madrid, and much to the delight of Manchester United fans, due to a delayed fax, the deal failed to be completed before the transfer window closed.
Since then, David de Gea has been given a massive long-term contract at Manchester United, and despite the club going through a rough patch at the moment, de Gea has repeatedly continued to make stunning saves, showing exactly what he is worth.
The most hilarious moments of 2015
While football is a game of hard work, passion and talent, the eccentric combination of such meteoric qualities often give rise to moments that leave us in splits. These include crazy celebrations, skills turning into unfortunate falls, dogs paying a visit on the field, and at times, an entire tent crashing on to the pitch. The video below will give you a gist of some of the most hilarious moments that we saw in football this year.
PS: To make things even funnier, watch this with the audio muted.
Best goals scored this year
While dribbles are great for the eye and the hilarious moments are for post-match relaxation, these are the goals that keep us hooked to the game as always. 2015’s best goals feature a number of known face s like Paul Pogba, Luis Suarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, along with a number of others contributing to the extensive list.
To exemplify the type of goals that feature in 2015’s list of best goals, Memphis Depay’s first ever Manchester United goal against Club Brugge, and Xabi Alonso’s scorching strike from outfield against SV Darmstadt, will set perfect examples
The best skills of 2015
No football saga is ever complete without an extravagant show of stepovers, nutmegs and unbelievable dribbles. The following video puts together a compilation of some of the best dribbling skills on show by footballers this year, featuring predictable entrants like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Gareth Bale. There are, however, much more to it, with youngsters like Memphis Depay featuring in a series of deft football. Sit back and hold your breath for some of the best on-pitch moments of 2015!
The record-breaking women’s world cup
Watch: Highlights of the 2015 Women’s World Cup final between USA and Japan
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Canada, broke more records than one. For the first time in history, 24 teams featured in the competition, in place of 16. This was the 7th edition of the tournament, and has drawn record-breaking statistics of viewership. According to FIFA and KantarSport, around 764 million in-home viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015. This has been the highest viewership for the pinnacle competition of women’s football, breaking all previous records.
Dire straits for Premier League giants
To sum up 2015, this year has been one for the underdogs to rise, and the heavyweights to stumble. For Premier League stalwart Chelsea, 2015 has been a confusing saga. The year started with Chelsea running out clear winners of the Barclays Premier League crown. However, with the start of the 2015-16 season, luck seems to have run out on Chelsea, with the reigning champions presently languishing at lowly 15th right now. This has been Chelsea’s worst Premier League run in a number of ways – their worst since the 1979 relegation season, and Mourinho’s personal worst ever.
The tide seems rather uneven for Manchester United, too. Yet to return to their pompous swagger that the Old Trafford club wielded back in the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, eccentric manager Louis Van Gaal’s tenure has been marked with a few highs and a number of lows. 2015 started with Manchester United placed 2nd in the league, in the season where they finished 4th, to return to the Champions League. Sadly, Van Gaal’s harsh tactics do not seem to be working, with United starting the season well, only to suffer seven straight matches without a win. If recent reports are to be believed, Manchester United might be ready to welcome their fourth manager (not counting Ryan Giggs), in less than three years.
Liverpool, yet another legendary British football club, has been having tough times too. With manager Brendan Rodgers sacked and the affable Jurgen Klopp taking over, many would have expected Liverpool to have romped back to their best. However, a 2-0 defeat against Newcastle United, and a 3-0 loss to Watford (both away from home) has halted the Klopp effect, resulting in Liverpool presently being 8th in the league, two points behind Watford.
The world of football is full of surprises, and no single match can really be predicted. With 2015, while some have reinstated their supremacy (Paris Saint-Germain’s 19-point lead in French Ligue 1 till now), many have faltered leading to the rise of unexpected heroes (read: Premier League). Here’s hoping 2016 to be equally surprising and exciting as 2015’s footballing moments.
PS: With Euro 2016 scheduled to begin on 10th June 2016, we are quite sure it will be a fascinating year!