2016 a year of football milestones

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By Euronews
2016 a year of football milestones

<p>On the field of play, 2016 was a year of milestones.</p> <p>In Europe’s top club competition, the Champions League, Real Madrid once again put space between themselves and the rest of the continent’s elite.</p> <p>The Spaniards beat fellow La Liga side and city rivals Atletico Madrid to lift the coveted trophy for a record 11th time – four more than any other team (AC Milan have seven).</p> <p>It capped off a fairytale first season at the helm for Zinedine Zidane.</p> <p>Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty to deliver the title to his side.</p> <p>It would be the start of a trophy-filled year for the 31-year old.</p> <p>Six weeks later Ronaldo would be celebrating another title.</p> <p>This time with his national teammates after Portugal won the European Championship for the nation’s very first major trophy.</p> <p>Star man Ronaldo was stretchered off after just 25 minutes of the final but Portugal held strong to beat tournament hosts France 1-0 in extra time.</p> <p>Portugal had finally reached the pinnacle of European football although they, and most of the other teams, failed to light up the stage with quality play.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">5 months ago today, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThisHappened?src=hash">#ThisHappened</a>. Portugal won <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Euro2016?src=hash">#Euro2016</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/For%C3%A7aPortugal?src=hash">#ForçaPortugal</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NeverForget?src=hash">#NeverForget</a> <a href="https://t.co/g6XeHfJpZJ">pic.twitter.com/g6XeHfJpZJ</a></p>— Andy Pereira (@AndyPereira1986) <a href="https://twitter.com/AndyPereira1986/status/807449801847611392">December 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Ronaldo’s trophy cabinet was added to in mid-December when he was named winner of the Ballon d’Or for a fourth time, beating perennial rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="es" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/Cristiano"><code>Cristiano</a> asegura que ganar la <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EURO2016?src=hash">#EURO2016</a> con Portugal significó más para el que ganar la <a href="https://twitter.com/ChampionsLeague"></code>ChampionsLeague</a> con <a href="https://twitter.com/realmadrid"><code>realmadrid</a> <a href="https://t.co/Et7LzCnZS0">pic.twitter.com/Et7LzCnZS0</a></p>&mdash; Carla Mondragón (</code>CarlaMondragon) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlaMondragon/status/808392452570775554">December 12, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>Player of Euro 2016</strong></p> <p>France forward Griezmann suffered heartbreak with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final in May and again on July 12 in the final of Euro 2016.</p> <p>But the 25-year old striker earned a consolation prize for his Euro efforts by being named Player of the Tournament.</p> <p>Griezmann finished the European Championship on home soil as top scorer with six goals and two assists.</p> <p>He started all but one France’s seven matches and his Golden Boot-winning tally included braces against Republic of Ireland and Germany in the knockout phase.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="ht" dir="ltr">Antoine Griezmann ♔<a href="https://t.co/ZseLHT5wRJ">https://t.co/ZseLHT5wRJ</a>♔ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EURO2016?src=hash">#EURO2016</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FiersdetreBleus?src=hash">#FiersdetreBleus</a> <a href="https://t.co/pDbCeSPphk">pic.twitter.com/pDbCeSPphk</a></p>— ♔Allez Les Bleus♔ (@AlleezLesBleus) <a href="https://twitter.com/AlleezLesBleus/status/804663748447309824">December 2, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>The rise of the debutants</strong></p> <p>Whilst many European heavyweight nations flattered to deceive in France there were some surprise performances at Euro 2016 from a couple of the tournament debutants.</p> <p>Wales captured the hearts and minds of football fans around the continent.</p> <p>It was a vintage campaign for the Dragons, who made a run to the semi-finals in their first ever appearance in the tournament.</p> <p>It was a run that saw Chris Coleman’s men thrash Russia 3-0 in the group stage, beat Northern Ireland in the round of 16, Belgium in the quarters but end in the last four against eventual winners Portugal. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><span class="caps">THE</span> <span class="caps">MOST</span> <span class="caps">FAMOUS</span> <span class="caps">NIGHT</span> IN <span class="caps">WELSH</span> <span class="caps">FOOTBALL</span> <span class="caps">HISTORY</span> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WAL?src=hash">#WAL</a> 3-1 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BEL?src=hash">#BEL</a> <br /> WE <span class="caps">ARE</span> <span class="caps">INTO</span> <span class="caps">THE</span> <span class="caps">SEMI</span>-<span class="caps">FINALS</span>!!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TOGETHERSTRONGER?src=hash">#TOGETHERSTRONGER</a> <a href="https://t.co/LIHCyXtAce">pic.twitter.com/LIHCyXtAce</a></p>— Wales (@FAWales) <a href="https://twitter.com/FAWales/status/748983712864403456">July 1, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Iceland were another of the first timers to make an impression on the footballing battle fields of France.</p> <p>The team returned home to a heroes welcome after reaching the quarter-finals.</p> <p>Their run at the event saw them draw with Portugal and Hungary and beat Austria in the group stage from which they qualified in second place.</p> <p>They then caused one of the major upsets of the tournament by stunning England in the round of 16.</p> <p>Their visit to France ended in the last eight where they were thumped by the hosts.</p> <p>Like Wales, Iceland’s exploits captivated football fans, while the intimidating Viking Clap from their own supporters has become one of the most iconic images of the event.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iceland have been nominated for <span class="caps">FIFA</span>'s first ever Fan Award at Euro 2016. <a href="https://t.co/Gi08ZKjv5h">pic.twitter.com/Gi08ZKjv5h</a></p>— <span class="caps">UNILAD</span> Football (@UNILADFooty) <a href="https://twitter.com/UNILADFooty/status/807405727337746432">December 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>End of an era confirmed</strong></p> <p>Heading to Euro 2016 as defending two time champions Spain were once again tagged as one of the pre-tournament favourites, but their era of European domination ended in the round of 16.</p> <p>The end of their era had already begun though when they were humiliated at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.</p> <p>But it was confirmed in France with a poor string of performances that culminated in a 2-0 defeat by Italy in the first knockout round.</p> <p>For the first time in eight years, Spain no longer have a title to defend.</p> <p><strong>The ugly side of the beautiful game</strong></p> <p>The Beautiful game rears its ugly head from time to time and unfortunately Euro 2016 was one of those times.</p> <p>Violence marred the early stages of the competition.</p> <p>French riot police were called into action on several occasions, notably when English and Russian fans clashed both in Marseille and Lille.</p> <p>Due to the extent of the violence the Russian team were given a suspended disqualification and the country’s national federation was fined €150,000. </p> <p>Fifty Russian fans were eventually deported.</p> <p>Nice, Paris, St Etienne and Lyon also bore the brunt of some unruly behaviour by supporters.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Fan Violence in Marseille Mars Start of Euro 2016 <a href="https://t.co/YgCHYWQvya">https://t.co/YgCHYWQvya</a> <a href="https://t.co/ftkVQsNN4T">pic.twitter.com/ftkVQsNN4T</a></p>— Aaron (@aaronmspelling) <a href="https://twitter.com/aaronmspelling/status/788795742773059585">October 19, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Police feared England fans were set to die after 'barbaric' Euro 2016 violence – <a href="https://t.co/1bjkhoSQz3">https://t.co/1bjkhoSQz3</a> <a href="https://t.co/RcvMqzOzRm">pic.twitter.com/RcvMqzOzRm</a></p>— <span class="caps">TODAY</span> (@todayng) <a href="https://twitter.com/todayng/status/786138640099504128">October 12, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>Change in the corridors of power</strong></p> <p>At the beginning of 2016 football’s corridors of power witnessed some much-needed changes.</p> <p>Following a scandal-hit year for football’s world governing body, <span class="caps">FIFA</span> elected a new president in February – former <span class="caps">UEFA</span> general secretary Gianni Infantino.</p> <p>Infantino was charged with cleaning up <span class="caps">FIFA</span>’s battered reputation left by his disgraced predecessor Sepp Blatter.</p> <p>The Swiss-Italian’s appointment marked a fresh start for the organisation.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">Gianni Infantino captures <span class="caps">FIFA</span> presidential election <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Fifa15?src=hash">#Fifa15</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Fifa?src=hash">#Fifa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FifaOnline?src=hash">#FifaOnline</a> <a href="https://t.co/zJVkL6bytE">https://t.co/zJVkL6bytE</a> <a href="https://t.co/CZzMwHEhjw">pic.twitter.com/CZzMwHEhjw</a></p>— FootBall <span class="caps">AUPA</span>! (@FootBallAUPA) <a href="https://twitter.com/FootBallAUPA/status/735910948825923584">May 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Infantino only entered the <span class="caps">FIFA</span> presidential race when his then <span class="caps">UEFA</span> boss Michel Platini was suspended then banned for six years for accepting a ‘‘disloyal payment’‘ from Blatter in 2011.</p> <p>In May, Platini had his ban reduced to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but his days involved with football were already numbered.</p> <p>As were Blatter’s.</p> <p>In December the 80-year-old Swiss failed in a challenge over his six-year ban – a ruling he described as ‘incomprehensible’.</p> <p>Incomprehensible or not, with Blatter and Platini now out of the football picture a new era at the top of the sport has begun.</p> <p>As Infantino settled into to his new job, his old one at the helm of European football’s governing body needed to be filled.</p> <p>That was done in September.</p> <p>Head of the Slovenian Football Association Aleksander Ceferin came out of nowhere to win the backing of 42 of the 55 Uefa voting members and win the election.</p> <p>Following a turbulent and chaotic 2015 for football, the appointments of Infantino and Ceferin in 2016 marks a new and hopefully brighter chapter in football.</p>