Not quite my cup of tea, these awards. MTV get their own hard-on moments every time the “coveted” MTV Awards approach in Europe and America (horrible clothing and masked drunkenness are on display every year) before handing out statuettes to the most ridiculously dressed “artists” of the year, a sort of thankyou for colouring innocent lives worldwide with their futility: tunes and all.
This year, the world of football decided to rid itself of the FIFA World Player award to join forces with France Football and their Balon d’Or. What’s the point of giving the same player two trophies, they must have thought. So, let’s get the national team coach and the captain and the most famous/important/representative journalist of each country and get them to vote for this gigantic award. It reminds me of how cosy Blatter and Platini are these days, sharing stupid ideas as they munch digestive biscuits in their bed with pink blankets and FIFA/UEFA logos embroidered on the sheets.
In the year of the World Cup, and where one single club bagged a treble and the friendly version of the World Club Cup, the winner of the Balon d’Or was the one who shouldn’t have won it.
Leo Messi is the best player in the world right now. But while he continued to score with the consistency of a Bren gun throughout 2010, he missed out on the two most important appointments: winning the Champions League and doing well (not a single goal) in the World Cup. Out of the final three, Iniesta and Xavi deserved better, having been part of the team who won the World Cup, together with a formidable domestic season (excluding the said Champions League). To be completely honest, I would have handed Xavi the trophy as a sign of merit for a career which, although far from over, sees him as the best 30 year old by a country mile. Xavi, with Iniesta as his very able successor, is the epitome of the modern playmaking midfielder, a fleet footed visionary with a golden touch, a good tackler, a much better than average finish, and something I still admire in footballers, a loyal captain, born and bred Barca. Just like Messi and Iniesta – but unlike them, Xavi has been a first team regular with Barca for the past twelve years.
There are always a lot of things to contest in the Balon d’Or. I, for one, would have given it to Paolo Maldini a few years ago. Did he deserve it? Of course he did: a “septuagenarian” (disparaging Interista term) who lifted the Champions league twice in the last decade.
Top three and previous should have’s aside, the final shortlist was also a bit of a mystery. I understand Inter’s Milito stopped banging them in around May and endured a few minutes of World Cup before disappearing into nothingness come 2010/2011, but I still wonder what Asamoah Gyan was doing there. A move of political correctness? I’d be alright with that, as long as all this virgin behaviour gets replicated in all of FIFA’s policies – which never happens. Like technology aids. Oops I’m out of topic again. It’s too easy to slag FIFA these days.
Back to us. Wesley Sneijder was touted as a palpable winner, if only by the Italian media. Maybe statistically he didn’t deserve to be top three, but he did very well throughout 2010 before his form eluded him in September.
Javier Zanetti? Not even nominated. Not even called up by Maradona for the World Cup. A glorious captain and incessant hard worker left out of the spotlight, once again. Just like Maldini.
Getting my drift? What if we had to eliminate all the media from the voting? Followed by the captains? (leave that stuff for the PFA please). What if we let statistics do the talking, say, calculate the number of minutes played, goals scored, team wins, trophies… multiplied by the domestic league FIFA coefficient… something scientific. Less of an orgy of lights and confetti, more justice. Please.
Before I conclude, some interesting facts after a quick look at the voting sheets (which FIFA must regret publishing):
□ Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel’s votes for first place and second place are both listed as “invalid votes” (his third place choice was Bastian Schweinsteiger). Most likely, his votes were invalid because he voted for his countrymen, but since this is Mark van Bommel, there are an infinite number of far more violent possibilities. Seeing he paired up with De Jong during the last World Cup… it’s all downhill really. Bert Van Marwijk, Dutch national manager and also Van Bommel’s father in law, also had his vote invalidated. What is this, Faamilje Illiteraat?
□ Our own national manager, John Buttigieg, had his vote for third invalidated. Got the spelling for Messi wrong, or voted for Mario Muscat?