The admirers of Robert Lewandowski have received some good news: the Pole has been named the finest player of the last year. The Best FIFA Football Awards are a lot less significant prize than the Golden Ball, which is unfortunate since we are not talking about the Golden Ball. We shall explain why the honor given by the International Football Federation (FIFA) does not have the same respect as the Ballon d’Or (World Player of the Year).
What are the Best FIFA Football Awards, and how do they work?
Is there a difference between the winners of this award and the winners of the Ballon d’Or? From 2017 until the present day, the International Football Federation has only presented the Player of the Year award once (for 2016). The winner is decided by the captains and head coaches of all of the world’s national teams from the national associations that are members of FIFA, as well as by fans and invited experts from more than 300 international media outlets, including the BBC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN2. The disparity between the Golden Ball, whose outcomes are determined purely by the votes of 180 journalists from various nations, and the Golden Ball is enormous.
A strong indication of the significance of The Best FIFA Awards is the fact that even those who are not interested in sports can identify recent Golden Ball winners, but the winners of FIFA are only known by sports fanatics. At the same time, the rankings of the top players are very similar; the only difference is that the International Football Federation’s award is mostly unimportant to most people.
Take a look for yourself; the key highlights of the two awards are almost identical: Cristiano Ronaldo won both prizes in 2016, and he won them again in 2017. Luka Modric won both awards in 2018, and Lionel Messi won both awards in 2019.
However, during the last two years, FIFA has fairly rewarded Robert Lewandowski, until France Football magazine in 2020 handed the Ballon d’Or to no one in particular (“thanks” to Covid) and in 2021 presented the honor to Lionel Messi on the spur of the moment.
Starting next year, it will be particularly humorous if FIFA and France Football begin honoring the same players year after year, as they have done before.
Okay, but what made Robert Lewandowski deserving of the Best Player title more than Messi was unclear.
Messi won the Golden Ball in 2021 solely because of his celebrity and the joyful finish to the fairy story “Leo and the first trophy with the national team since the 2008 Olympics,” which was the Copa América win.
It makes little difference that Argentina is the second most expensive team in the continent, after Brazil, in terms of the cost of the roster. It doesn’t matter if the squad led by Messi should have won at least a few of championships by now; instead, they were routinely eliminated from the Copa by random Chilean opposition. If Leo had not already won at least one Copa América, no one would have considered him the finest player in the world in 2021. However, it turned out that his earlier failures were what propelled him to the top individual honor. It’s a strange contradiction.
At the same time, Robert Lewandowski has been the top player in the world for the last two seasons. Moreover, when he was given the Golden Ball in 2021, Leo himself stated that he had been deceived:
“To make a specific remark about Robert Lewandowski, I’d like to say something about him. It is a wonderful honor to be in the same league as you. Everyone is aware that you were a winner the previous year. I believe that France Football should have awarded you the Golden Ball in 2020 instead of me. You are deserving of it. It should be kept at your residence.” -Lionel Messi is a footballer from Argentina.
It’s a good thing that Leo acknowledged the Pole’s supremacy over him. It’s a shame that it’s only half successful.
Apart from the Copa América, what other accomplishments will Messi be recognized for in 2021? Despite only winning one game in the Copa Del Rey, he managed to win the top scorer award in La Liga, scoring 30 goals. In addition, there was a third-place finish in the Spanish league and relegation from the 1/8 Champions League with Barcelona, as well as a difficult transition to PSG (1 goal in 11 matches in Ligue 1, seriously?) and a longer adaptation period.
If such accomplishments are really deserving of the golden ball, then Alexis Sanchez should have received the prize the following season. He also won the Copa América (albeit not as a favorite) and the Cup of the nation (read the sentences in brackets before reading on), while also netting 25 goals in 52 appearances for Arsenal throughout his career. The Chilean was then ranked eighth in the world. However, this seems to be an exception.
In the same season, in 2021, Robert Lewandowski scored 41 goals in 29 matches in the Bundesliga, breaking the all-time record set by Gerd Müller, who had held the mark for 49 (!!!) years before. In addition, the Polish striker did not leave the pitch without scoring a goal for seven months and scored 15 goals in 10 Champions League games during that time. And we’re just talking about 2021, and Messi himself had no concerns about the Pole’s insurmountability only a year ago.
As a consequence, according to the results of the 2021 season, Lewandowski scored 64 goals in 52 games, while Messi’s tally is far lower at 41 goals in 51 matches. Robert’s full domination, on the other hand, was only recognized by FIFA, and for France Football, Messi’s media presence proved to be much more essential than Robert’s performances in the field of play.
Simply said, it’s a pity that the value of the second prize is several times more than the first reward, and that everyone will quickly forget about the Best FIFA Award, which was given to a great Polish football player a year ago. Everyone is familiar with the concept that the top players win the Golden Ball and that there is only one ultimate prize. And no one seems to worry about the duplicate.