FIFA’s The Best award will be decided in Qatar’s World Cup for the first time in its history.
Until this year, The Best, which recognises the performance of footballers, as well as conduct on and off the pitch, was always given at the end of the season since it assesses players throughout the season.
However, FIFA officials will change the tradition, and factor in performances played at Qatar’s World Cup instead.
The Best FIFA Football Awards is new to the sport and is often mistaken for the Ballon d’Or, yet the two distinctions are different.
First debuting in 2017, The Best is governed by FIFA and measures candidates on the metric of virtue on and off the pitch.
“They not only represent the game’s highest honour for coaches and footballers, but are a celebration in which football fans are recognised – and play a vital and active part,” as stated by FIFA.
Not only are footballers selected, but the awards are separated into several categories from coaches, goalkeepers, and fans.
From a shortlist of 11 male players, former Bayern Munich Robert Lewandowski was named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year for the second time in 2021.
Lewandowski scored 41 league goals and broke the Bundesliga season record as he drove Bayern Munich to clinch the title.
The Polish footballer was voted by the current coaches of all men’s national teams along with the current captains of all men’s national teams and one specialist journalist from each territory represented by a national team, along with fans who were registered on the FIFA website.
Lewandowski joins Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, and Luka Modric as the footballers to win the FIFA award.
Unlike The Best, the Ballon d’Or has been gifted by the French news magazine France Football since 1956.
This year’s edition, however, will be unlike any before as it is based on the previous season, which dates from 1 August 2021, to 31 July 2022.
France Football has already nominated the 30 footballers on the list, which include several talents such as Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, Kylian Mbappe, Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Heung-Min Son.
Argentina’s Messi, however, was left off the list, shocking the football world and raging several football fans as it was the first time since 2005 international journalists did not nominate the footballer.
Having won the Ballon d’Or seven-time, surpassing any other player, Messi’s poor performance with Paris Saint-Germain left him absent from being called.
“The Argentinian was part of the discussions to integrate the 30, but the new criteria for the Ballon d’Or were unfavourable to him: disappearance of the criterion of a player’s entire career, and new periodicity, modelled on a season of football and no longer over a calendar year, which does not make it possible to integrate the Copa America of July 11, 2021,” said France Football’s deputy editor-in-chief Emmanuel Bojan.
“It must be admitted that his first season in Paris was very disappointing both in terms of the visual impression and the statistics,” Bojan added, defending the newspaper’s nomination.
Several experts and fans have called Karim Benzema to win this year since the French superstar aided Real Madrid in winning the Champions League and La Liga titles.
It’s hard not to award Benzema since he netted an incredible 44 goals in 46 games for his club, including 15 in the Champions League.
Erling Haaland and Mbappe are favourites, as both footballers have made impressive runs for their clubs.
However, it should be noted that Haaland’s legendary stint with Manchester City won’t be considered since this is the year’s Ballon d’Or only hailing last season.