Apparently, Santa Claus is coming to town? He’s making his list, checking it twice, but we at SOCCER.COM have decided to take fate into our own hands to determine which footballers have been naughty or nice in 2013. Not like we have the power to distribute coal or anything.
5. Jurgen Klinsmann gets FOUR MORE YEARS!
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann inked a four-year contract extension with the red, white and blue, just days after USMNT drew a tough group for next summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. This agreement demonstrates just how much faith the administration has in Klinsmann. As part of the deal, Klinsmann has also become the Technical Director of the U.S. Soccer Federation. “One of the reasons we hired Jurgen as our head coach was to advance the program forward and we’ve seen the initial stages of that happening on the field and also off the field in various areas,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a press release. “In the past two years he has built a strong foundation from the senior team down to the youth teams and we want to continue to build upon that success.”
4. Long-winded Mourinho gives away the shirt off his back.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, known for being long-winded, surprised his hard-working Romanian translator by removing his shirt and autographing it for him. Say what you will about Mourinho, but come on, that was nice.
3. Ronaldinho giving his shoes away to Raja Casablanca players
In an awkward, yet endearing and sweet display of affection, several of Raja Casablanca’s players modded Ronaldinho after winning the semi-final match of the FIFA Club World Cup last week. Ronaldinho received kisses and hugs from the opposing Moroccan team, and was mobbed for his jersey and new Nike Tiempo V cleats.
Bless him. He handled it well.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo vouches for Florida Pitch Invader.
Cristiano Ronaldo is called a score of things over the course of a day: a pretty-boy, a talented footballer, CR7, the Greatest Player in the World. But rarely does “A Good Guy” make that list.
Ronaldo Gjoka, better known as the Crazy Guy that Hugged Cristano Ronaldo, was just beside himself to meet his hero. The two talked and hugged it out before Gjoka was dragged off the field by security and jailed for 36 hours. Ronaldo seemed calm and understanding, and later wrote a letter to the judge in Gjoka’s case, asking him to drop the charges against this fan.
The crazy thing is, it actually worked.
1. How Atticus and the Green Machine beat the Portland Timbers.
If you’re in need of a good cry, or want to have your faith in humanity restored, check out my favorite feel-good soccer story of the year. The Portland Timbers and the Timbers Army came together to make 8-year-old Atticus Lane-Dupre’s dream come. 3,000 people came out to watch Atticus’ team, the Green Machine, take on the Portland Timbers in a very special event. Make sure you have tissues nearby before you click play.
5. Jack Wilshere gives Manchester City fans the finger.
After Arsenal and Manchester City’s Dec. 14 match at Ethiad Stadium, several television cameras caught Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere giving City fans the finger. He was brought up to the FA on charges of making an obscene gesture, which he accepted. Wilshere explained on Twitter that City fans were harassing him about his two young children, and he lost his cool.
4. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez bites Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
I can’t even being to explain this one. Whether out of frustration or competitiveness, Suarez grabbed the Chelsea defender’s arm and took a solid bite on it.
Suarez later apologized on Twitter, but was still banned for 10 games.
3. Match-fixing allegations in Italy
Former AC Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, along with fellow Italian national and Lazio man Cristian Brocchi was arrested in December for their alleged parts in a match-fixing ring during the 2010-2011 Serie A seasons. Yikes.
2. Bosnian fans chucking flares at each other.
Some people just don’t know how to behave.
1. Incidents of racism by Zenit St. Petersburg, CSKA Moscow fans
It goes without saying that racism is despicable. The world’s game still has a ways to go in eradicating racism from the game in all countries, stadiums and leagues. These two incidents are extreme examples, but still very real (and very, very naughty).
In late 2012, a group of Zenit St. Petersburg fans petitioned the club “to exclude non-white and gay players” from their team. Black players who travel to Zenit St. Petersburg are frequent targets of racist chants, monkey noises and some have had bananas thrown at them during matches.
In November 2013, when Manchester City visited CSKA Moscow, Yaya Toure was the subject of racist and monkey chants. After Toure appealed to the referee to stop play, the match resumed. CSKA Moscow claimed that Toure overreacted.
Do you agree with this list? Any honorable mentions we neglected to include? Show the comments box some holiday cheer below.