By Aliyu Yakubu Yusuf
The annual FIFA Best Awards 2021 ceremony took place yesterday, January 17, 2022, in Zurich, Switzerland, amidst glitz and glamour. Many awards were contested and won by deserving players. Bayern Munich Polish marksman, Robert Lewandowski, was the biggest winner, as he scooped the prize of the FIFA the Best Men’s Player for the second year running. However, a few controversies left fans watching the event on TV and social media scratching their heads in disbelief. I will highlight just five of them.
- Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, and Mohamed Salah were selected as the three best players in this order. However, in the annual FIFPro World XI, there was no place for Mohamed Salah. In other words, the Egyptian who was deemed good enough to be the third-best player for the year was considered not good enough to be in the team of the same year. If this is not utterly dumbfounding, I don’t know what is. And somehow, FIFA managed to include Cristiano Ronaldo and Erling Braut Haaland, who were ranked lower than Salah, in that team. Ridiculous!
- A similar scenario played itself out again in the goalkeeping category. Chelsea Senegalese custodian, Edouard Mendy, was chosen as the Best Men’s goalkeeper. But somehow, he was overlooked for the same FIFPro World XI. Instead, the PSG Italian shot stopper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, was selected. Fans all over the world were left fuming with this absurdity. How can you choose a player as the best in his position and then fail to select him in your best team of the year? Inexplicable!
- Barcelona Spanish player Alexia Putellas won FIFA the Best Women’s Player in the women’s category but was omitted from the FIFPro Women’s World XI. In other words, the best player of the year was deemed not good enough to have a place in the best team of the year. In case you don’t know, Alexia Putellas won the Ballon d’Or just two months ago. But still, FIFA decided that there were better players to be in the World XI than the double award-winning Spaniard. Baffling!
- Barcelona Women’s team won a treble last year. They won the women’s equivalent of La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League. Yet, none of their players was chosen in the FIFPro World XI, not even the aforesaid Best Women’s player, Alexia Putellas. Controversial!
- Barcelona Women’s treble-winning coach Lluis Cortes was somehow not chosen as the women’s coach of the year. Instead, the award went to Chelsea Women’s coach, Emma Hayes. By the way, Lluis Cortes and his Barcelona destroyed Emma Hayes and his Chelsea team 4-0 in the Women’s Champions League final late last year. Absurd!
Surprisingly, despite these apparent inconsistencies, there were no cries of robbery, no rubbishing of the awards, no nothing. SMH!
Aliyu is a lecturer at the Department of English and Literary Studies, Bayero University, Kano. He can be reached via email@example.com.