Brazilian side Sao Paulo wrote all the headlines on the pitch in a busy end of the year for FIFA as they beat Liverpool 1-0 to lift the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005. Sao Paulo and Liverpool got to the final of the six-team tournament with wins over Al Ittihad and Deportivo Saprissa respectively, with Costa Rican side Saprissa winding up in third place after beating the Saudis 3-2 in the play-off. 

Elsewhere, the eyes of the international football family were drawn to two stages, in Leipzig and Zurich, for two of the most eagerly-awaited announcements of the year: The Final Draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ (see below) and the FIFA World Player Gala.

At the Gala, the coaches and captains of national teams all around the world chose to place the crowns back on the heads of last year's triumphant twosome, with Birgit Prinz (Germany) and Ronaldinho (Brazil) once again claiming the honours at the Zurich Opera House. For the German striker, this year marked her third consecutive triumph, a unique feat in the history of the FIFA World Player Gala, which is now into its 15th year.

Barcelona's Ronaldinho also received the ultimate personal accolade for the second consecutive year, with club team-mate Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon) finishing third behind Chelsea's Frank Lampard (England), who claimed second place. 

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter gave the FIFA Presidential Award to former Swedish international referee Anders Frisk following his retirement, while the FIFA Fair Play Award was presented to the football community of the Peruvian city of Iquitos for the way they responded to hosting matches at the FIFA U-17 World Championship in September.

With Germany 2006 drawing ever closer, FIFA announced that the real, solid-gold trophy will be sent on a global tour for the first time. The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola will visit 31 cities in 28 countries over a three-month stretch, starting in the Ghanaian capital Accra in January and ending in Rome in April. The world tour will be followed by a national tour through Germany ahead of the finals.
Also in December, England's four-decade wait for a FIFA world champion finally ended when 18-year-old Chris Bullard from Ipswich won the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2005 title in London by beating Hungary's Gabor Makos 5-2 in the final.

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking
For the fourth year in a row, Brazil took the Top Team title after finishing up 44 points clear of their nearest competitor, the Czech Republic. Other notable movers within the top ten included the Netherlands (3rd, up 3 ranks on 2004), Mexico (5th, up 2) and the USA (8th, up 3), who reached their highest ever ranking position (6th) in July 2005. Ghana won the race for the Best Mover title, shaking off competition from Ethiopia and Togo. Ethiopia stood out when it came to improving ranking position, climbing 39 places in 2005 to reach rank 112, with Togo (56th, up 33) and Scotland (60th, up 26) also gaining more than 25 ranking positions.

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany
Leipzig's Messe Halle in eastern Germany was the setting as the Final Draw was held for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals. The star-studded event, part-hosted by German supermodel Heidi Klum, threw up some intriguing groups, with the toughest appearing to contain Argentina, Netherlands, Côte d'Ivoire and Serbia and Montenegro. Holders Brazil were placed in Group F with Croatia, Australia and Japan, meaning former Brazilian hero Zico must prepare his Japanese team to face the team he represented at three previous FIFA World Cups. Hosts Germany will take on Poland, Ecuador and Costa Rica in Group A and the Germans' meeting with Costa Rica in Munich will open the tournament on 9 June 2006.

Key Dates:
Dec 7 - FIFAworldcup.com relaunches improved site in three new languages: Italian, Portuguese and Korean, bringing the total number of language channels available to seven

Dec 9 - 2006 FIFA World Cup Final Draw, Leipzig

Dec 18 - Sao Paulo win FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005

Dec 18 - England's Chris Bullard wins second FIFA Interactive World Cup in London

Dec 19 - FIFA World Player Gala 2005, Zurich
 

 Three top stories:
  Sao Paulo strike gold for South America
  Teams learn fate at 2006 FIFA World Cup Final Draw
  Ronaldinho and Prinz earn FIFA World Player of the Year titles