Do Messi and Co. deserve FIFA’s The Best awards?

The following represents the opinion of the student reporter and does not represent the views of Loyola University Maryland, the Greyhound, or Loyola University’s Department of Communication.

On Feb. 27, 2023, Lionel Messi, an Argentine soccer player, won ‘The Best FIFA Men’s Player award,’ Lionel Scaloni, an Argentine soccer coach, won ‘The best FIFA Men’s Coach,’ and Emiliano Martinez, an Argentine goalkeeper, won ‘Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper,’ and even the Argentine fans won the ‘FIFA Fan Award.’ The question at hand is whether these players and coaches deserved their respective awards. In my opinion, they were not deserved.

FIFA’s “The Best” is an award that is given to a player who is thought to have had the best performance the entire year. After this, there are subsequent awards given for different positions such as goalkeeper and coach, with the same criteria being applied. This year, the award is measuring these individuals’ performances from Aug. 8, 2021, until Dec. 18, 2022.

The way voting works is that there is a list of people consisting of current coaches, team captains, as well as selected media personnel who all cast votes for their top three nominations. It is important to note that media personnel are not necessarily in the field of sports, let alone soccer. Once these are accounted for, the winner is decided. Those who vote are supposed to consider the player’s or coach’s performance throughout the entire year. When it comes to the players it is supposed to be how they did both for their club team, where they play for the majority of the year, as well as their national team, if applicable. 

Since we now know the winners of each award, let’s take a look at the runners-up, as you will soon see why this is important. For the best men’s player award, the runners-up were Kylian Mbappé (French) and Karim Benzema (French). For the best men’s coach award, it was Carlo Ancelotti (Italian) and Pep Guardiola (Spanish). Finally, for the best men’s goalkeeper award, it was Yassine Bounou (Moroccan) and Thibaut Courtois (Belgian).

For the best men’s player award, I think Kylian Mbappé deserved the award more. In terms of club team performance, he is on the same team as Messi, which is PSG, and has been the top scorer and assist man last season, as well as in first so far this season with 19 goals. At the World Cup, he was the top scorer as well as scored a hat trick in the final, aside from converting his penalty in the shootout. Messi was not on the top scorer list last season, was second in assists behind Mbappé, and was the second top scorer in the World Cup. Although Messi did win the World Cup, which does deserve praise, that alone should not be the deciding factor as again, the award is for the full year performance, not just for the 29 days that the tournament takes place.

Moving on to the best coach award, Scaloni took the prize having won only one trophy. Now, it happened to be the World Cup, but again, only one trophy and only shows his performance for six weeks out of the year that they are being assessed. Now being a national team coach only gives you a couple of trophies to win as there are not many competitions, but this is why a national team coach is not usually the one to win this award. I think runner-up Carlo Ancelotti deserved the award. Carlo Ancelotti won a total of five trophies as well as four individual awards.

For the best goalkeeper award, Emiliano Martinez picked up the award. Previously he had won two trophies with Argentina as well as the golden glove at the World Cup. Thibaut Courtois, the goalie who I think deserved the award, had won four trophies with his club team, Real Madrid, as well as eight individual awards.

Here you will find the lists of all the people who voted for the best player, goalkeeper, and coach. Although the winners of these awards have made great contributions to the soccer world, I believe other people deserved the awards more.