- Title: The first part of the sports yearender features soccer
- Date: 28th November 2016
- Summary: ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (MARCH 19, 2015) (REUTERS) OUTSIDE OF FIFA HEADQUARTERS CLOSE UP OF FIFA SIGN
- Embargoed: 13th December 2016 11:07
- Keywords: Sports yearender soccer 2016
- Location: VARIOUS
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ADKMKF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: There were big changes off the pitch at the top of world soccer as new presidents were elected at both FIFA and UEFA.
Swiss soccer executive Gianni Infantino was elected to lead FIFA out of years of corruption and scandal after being elected president to succeed Sepp Blatter.
Infantino's former boss at UEFA, Michel Platini, was forced to resign the presidency of European soccer's governing body after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced his six-year ban from soccer for ethics violations to four years, saying the original punishment from FIFA was too severe, but didn't cancel the suspension itself, saying the Frenchman had "breached FIFA's ethics code".
Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin was overwhelmingly elected as the new head of UEFA at an extraordinary Congress in September.
Ceferin beat Dutchman Michael van Praag, the only other candidate, by 42 votes to 13 to succeed Platini.
On the field of play an inspired Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal win Euro2016 in France.
The early stages of the tournament were marred by fan violence which culminated in UEFA warning the English and Russian soccer associations that their teams could be disqualified from Euro 2016 if there was a continuation.
Once the attention focused on the pitch there was success for some smaller nations with Iceland knocking out England, and Wales progressing to the semi-finals.
Portugal and France made it through to the final in Paris where substitute Eder scored in extra-time to give Portugal a 1-0 win over the hosts, securing the first major international title for his country despite losing captain and talisman Ronaldo to injury.
Following the tournament there was the usual round of managerial changes.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque retired from soccer management to be replaced by Julen Lopetegui, Antonio Conte left Italy to take over at Chelsea with Giampiero Ventura, a 68-year-old who has never won a major title and spent much of his career in the lower divisions, replacing him.
In a surprise appointment, Belgium replaced Marc Wilmots with Spaniard Roberto Martinez, while in England Roy Hodgson's successor Sam Allardyce lasted just one game before being forced to leave after the former West Ham United manager was caught on film making inappropriate comments about transfers in a newspaper sting.
Under new coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, Chile upset favourites Argentina with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory in the Copa America final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, United States to retain their title in the world's oldest continental soccer competition.
Lionel Messi missed from the spot in the shootout after the teams had played out a goalless draw, cutting a dejected figure after the result was sealed and Argentina's trophy drought had been extended to 23 years.
As in Europe, South American heavyweights reacted by changing coaches, Argentina's Gerardo Martino and Dunga of Brazil were quickly replaced by Edgardo Bauza and Tite respectively.
The year had started well for Messi, who reclaimed the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the world player of the year after watching his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo walk off with the prize for the previous two years.
The Barcelona and Argentina forward finished ahead of Ronaldo and Brazil forward Neymar as he scooped the award for the fifth time overall, having previously won it four years in a row from 2009 to 2012.
Off the field things did not go so well, and in July Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined 2 million euros ($2.2 million) after being found guilty of three counts of tax fraud, although it is unlikely he will serve time.
The Barcelona court handed the same sentence to the player's father, Jorge, with a 1.5 million euro fine.
Spanish law is such that any sentence under two years for a non-violent crime rarely requires a defendant without previous convictions to serve jail time. A spokeswoman for the court confirmed Messi was unlikely to be imprisoned.
Messi, 29, and his father defrauded the Spanish tax office of almost 4.2 million euros between 2007 and 2009 by using a web of shell companies to evade taxes on income from the player's image rights, the court said in a written ruling.
Messi, five-times World Player of the Year, admitted during the trial to signing contracts protecting his image rights but said he had no knowledge he was partaking in any wrongdoing or defrauding the Spanish state.
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