FIFA.com details an answer from Gilles Grimandi, the director of communications for FIFA, when asked about rumors surrounding possible transfers of stars like Wayne Rooney and Eden Hazard. “The transfer market is open. That’s where the discussion should be,” he replied, adding, “At the moment, [U.S. president Donald] Trump is selling watches. We should be selling soccer.”
From Football Manager to By Geography, here are 15 fascinating stories from the season’s most exciting frontiers that should fill you with excitement and tension.
1. FIFA and U.S. prosecutors charged several former FIFA executives in a sweeping conspiracy against soccer’s governing body, which operated for more than two decades through corruption charges and concealing financial documents.
2. In the lead-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Brazilian government signed a preliminary deal with Yahoo Japan to livestream all of the competitions online. A prominent executive of Yahoo Japan was accused of being involved in the scandal, and he was arrested at his home by the New York police, who said he was hiding out there in an attempt to avoid capture. Yahoo’s stock and the numbers for the Brazilian home country of the 2022 Olympic hosts plummeted soon after.
3. The 2016 Rio Olympics drew not only the vast international television audience and huge audiences of the hosts (as well as half the United States population), but also the first online streaming agreement between NFL and YouTube. The Super Bowl, however, had its own digital pioneer: Mark Cuban.
4. D.C. United fan Mike McCaa lost a leg in Afghanistan to a roadside bomb, one of more than 300 reported soccer related casualties, according to The Times of London. But what had McCaa not celebrated? Instead, he learned soccer and signed up for a grassroots program that trains returning veterans and provide them with soccer balls.
5. Alex “King James” Rodriguez left Real Madrid to sign with the New York Yankees, and LeBron James jumped the same ship from Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat, leading to another first for a sports star in the intervening years — James and Rodriguez had never played for the same team.
6. Lionel Messi and Neymar were fined a combined $250,000 for failing to register 23 players that made a trip to a wedding in 2012. The pair attended the celebration in Brazil, against FIFA’s best practice advice that players should be exempt during national team training sessions during international tournaments.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was welcomed back to the team by an early round song from rap stars Fetty Wap and Iggy Azalea. Fournette signed with the Jaguars before the 2017 season and tied for first in the NFL in rushing yards, but the noise shouldn’t come as a surprise given Jacksonville’s meteoric rise as a team, making them perhaps the NFL’s biggest attention grabbers in that regard.
8. In a much-hyped transfer, Xherdan Shaqiri, a winger known for roaming up and down the field and offering the seemingly impossible ball, arrived from Stoke City for the Swiss national team’s friendly against the Netherlands. He has often been overshadowed by fellow teammate and budding star, Robert Lewandowski, but the Swiss were surprisingly able to hold off the Netherlands despite the added pressure, taking the four points and finishing second in Group E behind Brazil, who will meet Sweden in the round of 16.
9. On June 14, 2016, Anderlecht conceded the biggest Champions League Final goal in history against Real Madrid on penalty kicks, a historic calamity that set the stage for one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of the tournament. A huge illustration of Anderlecht’s heavy heart, the players lined up without shirts for the after party and met their training partners in silhouette.
10. As Colombia claimed an unlikely last-second penalty-kick win over European champions Portugal to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and qualified last on the list of the top 20 most-watched television programs in the United States. Against this backdrop, footballers are championing the one campaign thing in 2017 that isn’t a particular liability in America.
11. German second division club Karmann-Karagandy proved that there is no distinction between amateur and professional soccer, signing the 40-year-old goalkeeper of one of the world’s top-flight clubs. Dominik Karagandy played for Bayern Munich in 2005 and 2006 and was injured at the end of the 2007 season.
12. The schedule for Sunday’s World Cup draw featured a confetti shower, horseplay between captains and a flurry of exciting pictures before the 78th random face drawn in the palm of the FIFA employee came to life. More…