Scandals leave cloud over memorable 2014

Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:13pm EST
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By Julian Linden

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A year which was supposed to showcase the virtues of modern sport was instead smeared by a series of scandals that exposed the ugly underbelly of the games people love.

On the fields of play, the action in 2014 was at times breathtaking.

A German team, unshackled from its pragmatic past and playing with uninhibited flair, won a World Cup in Brazil that exceeded everyone's wildest expectations.

Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final at the sprawling Maracana in Rio de Janeiro thanks to a superb extra-time goal from baby-faced substitute Mario Goetze to lift the trophy for the first time since 1990.

The hosts buckled under the weight of expectation, finishing fourth, but never had the samba nation shone so brightly on the world stage.

Magnanimous in defeat, Brazil delivered a tournament that will be remembered for its contagious carnival atmosphere, infecting everyone from the golden sands of Copacabana Beach to the Amazon rainforest.

But the year did not end well for the beautiful game with FIFA, soccer's world governing body, fending of more accusations of bribery over its decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 to Qatar.

FIFA cleared both of any of wrongdoing but the former U.S. prosecutor who led the investigation said it had misrepresented his findings and he later quit.   Continued...

A supporter holds a photo cutout of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling while standing in line for the NBA Playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California April 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni