Soccer’s international governing body FIFA held its annual award show “The Best”, in London on Monday evening. There were a number of oddities during the ceremony, which we will later address.
Though one can certainly argue about the esthetics of one goal compared to another, there was no controversy in the Puskas Award going to Mohamed Salah for a goal he scored for Liverpool against city rivals Everton.
Belgian Thibaut Courtois, who moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid ahead of the start of this season, was chosen for the Best Goalkeeper Award.
There was nothing strange about this in itself either, except that David de Gea of Spain and Manchester United was voted into the FIFA FIFPro World 11 instead of Courtois at the keeper’s position.
The eleven went as follows: De Gea; Dani Alves, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane; Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Luka Modrić; Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi.
There, it is noteworthy that both Ronaldo and Messi skipped the ceremony altogether. That was a low point of the show and a terrible display of lacking sportsmanship on the part of the duo, that had deservedly dominated the Best Men’s Player Award for over a decade, which neither of them would win this time.
The Best Men’s Coach Award went to French national team boss Didier Deschamps, which was not a surprise, given that none of his World Cup winning players were up for the highest individual prize.
The trophy for best women’s coach went to Deschamps’ fellow Frenchman Reynald Pedros. He led Olympique Lyon to domestic and continental greatness last season.
The Fan Award went to supporters of the Peruvian national team, who supposedly enhanced the atmosphere at the World Cup.
The FIFA Fair Play award went to German player Lennart Thy of VVV-Venlo, who missed a key game of his team to become a stem cell donor. That selfless act puts into perspective what is important in life.
Lastly came the highest individual award for players of each gender. On the women’s side, it was for Brazil and Orlando Pride star Marta. While I doubt that anyone disputes her skill and legendary status, she clearly did not deserve this honor this year.
This awarding once again causes a further rift between the women’s soccer community and FIFA.
On the men’s side, Luka Modrić of Real Madrid and Croatia won the honor without controversy after having had the year of his life on the field. (Despite Ronaldo and Messi’s jealousy).