Beyond the wins and losses,
the improbable comebacks, fantastic goals and dragged-out transfer sagas, 2012
proved to be a year in which harsher realities pulled world soccer out of its
cocoon of sport.
Incidents of racism and homophobia and even of life and death received increased scrutiny and concern throughout the year. And as fan culture remains intense and divisive, this reminder of perspective should be seen as a positive and a harbinger of growth.
Of course, there was also a lot of entertaining and record-breaking football, as well. These are the five top stories of 2012. — By Brooks Peck