From Deflategate to FIFA corruption, in 2015 sports scandals left a sour taste but offered hope of brighter future

PARIS — For the past 12 months, scandals off the field of play eclipsed exploits on it. Beyond the usual cases of doping and cheating that are sadly common in modern sports, shocking corruption in soccer and athletics begged the question of whether the vast riches and accompanying greed generated by professional sport are rotting the entire multi-billion dollar industry to its core.

On the upside, the stink got so bad that 2015 also saw the forces of law and order sit up and take action, opening criminal investigations, making high-profile arrests and recovering tens of millions of ill-gotten dollars. That legal pressure sped change, notably at soccer governing body FIFA, forcing administrators to abandon some of their old-school, shoddy, back-room and amateur management practices and enact reforms that should make them behave more professionally.

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