By Bryan Maag | @HalfBAM
The international soccer calendar is officially in the books, and tonight at Congress Hall in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA handed out its end of the year awards in a relatively toned down black-tie affair. The three male BALLON D’OR invitees were Lionel Messi (F.C. Barcelona), Christiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), and Neymar De Silva (F.C. Barcelona). The female nominees included Aya Miyama (Japan), Carli Lloyd (United States), and Celia Sasic (Germany).
The FIFA awards are always a bit awkward due to the vast amounts of nationalities and languages that are thrown together in one room. Everyone in the audience is outfitted with an earpiece while the British hosts deliver slow pre-approved jokes to a reception of awkward laughter.
This year was a tough one for the powers that rule over soccer, and the usual pomp and circumstance was missing in this year’s awards. The biggest news has been the indictments handed down to FIFA members for corruption and greed. Due to these criminal proceedings we are seeing a glimpse into the lives of the men behind the scenes of soccer. Unsurprisingly, Sepp Blatter and Michael Platini were two notable figureheads that were not in attendance this year.
The 2015 soccer campaign brought us various record breaking performances. Chile showed some amazing fortitude in defending their home soil to take home their first Copa America crown in the tournament’s 99 year history. Barcelona became the first European team to successfully win two European trebles which included the Copa America, La Liga and Champions League trophies. They topped off their season with a club world cup championship. The United States won a fantastic Women’s World Cup in Canada on artificial turf. Other notable moments were Chelsea securing the Premier League Crown, Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga and Juventus retained their Serie A trophy.
Today’s FIFA winners were well deserved. Carli Lloyd took home her first Women’s trophy and the first U.S. women since Abby Wambach in 2012. Lionel Messi took home his record fifth trophy after his stellar club team wins, yet still had to deal with another Argentina national team disappointment, losing in the Copa America final over the summer.
The 2016 soccer calendar is packed and Section925 is ecstatic to help bring it to light. Some notable competitions to follow this year will be the British Premier League (NBC Sports), La Liga (BeIn TV), Champions League (Fox), European Championships (ESPN), Olympics (NBC), MLS, and the Copa America Centennial, which will be hosted here in the United States.
From Avaya Stadium in San Jose to pitches across the pond and throughout the rest of the world, the coming year surely will not disappoint.