Watching the FIFA awards ceremony on Monday was a tedious task to say the least. There was the unnecessary pomp and circumstance surrounding the event as always, although FIFA aren’t half as bad at this as UEFA – and anyway this has almost become part and parcel now, and it’s useless whining that we want a refined ceremony where the awards themselves are the only important thing. It’s futile.
But, that’s not the only thing that needs changing about these ceremonies, in fact it’s not even close. The one thing that really, really got to me about the latest FIFA awards is how egotistical they really are, in that anything accomplished at FIFA’s own tournament – the World Cup – is automatically given an immeasurable boost in its credibility.
What do I mean by this? In the Puskas award; a header from the edge of the area, albeit good improvisation, was nominated for Goal of the Season ahead of probably 50 better goals. Why? Well, because it was scored at the World Cup and was a kind-of-good moment for neutral football fans who got to go on to see the reigning World Champions – whose dominance had become a bit annoying – get romped 5-1.
I put this to a friend, who then challenged me to come up with ten better goals than Van Persie’s – and it was easy. Really easy. I get that the players/fans vote for it, but to be honest, the header should never have even been on the short-list.
To prove this, here are what I consider to be just five almost indisputably better goals than RVP’s.
1. Jack Wilshere vs Norwich
2. Joey Garner vs Rotherham
3. Jonjo Shelvey vs Aston Villa
4. Wayne Rooney vs West Ham
5. Alex Tettey vs Sunderland
Now, are all these goals better than Rodriguez’s, which won the award? No, definitely not. However – are they all better than Van Persie’s which made the final three? I’d definitely say so.
None of these goals were even nominated. I think the omission of Wilshere’s in particular (but perhaps I’m bias) is an absolute disgrace. I can guarantee you that had Germany done that at the World Cup with the media’s love-ee Thomas Muller finishing it off, it would be considered the best goal of the decade. In fact the same applies to Joey Garner’s as well. Had Rodriguez scored that for Colombia… I can only imagine the reaction.
Furthermore, look at the coach of the year award. Diego Simeone accomplished what many people thought would be impossible for many years last season, ending Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance at the top of La Liga.
Not to even mention the incredible difference in the clubs’ relative spending power, Simeone created a team of title winners from what looked a year ago like a team you’d fancy facing in the Champions League round of 16 draw. I’d know, Arsenal were in that position.
But who won coach of the year? Joachim Low. A coach who did a very good job, yes, but was handed an almost complete team on a plate by Pep Guardiola and only had to complement it with a couple of Dortmund and Arsenal players, one of whom (Per Mertesacker) was dropped after the quarter finals.
It just feels to me like when there’s a World Cup on, all club achievements go completely out of the window – Simeone, Wilshere, Garner and individual players who were arguably robbed of their place in team of the year such as Godin, Modric and Suarez are all victims of this self indulgent rubbish.
Now, I do appreciate that doing something at a World Cup, on the biggest stage in the world with all of that expectation is a slightly different achievement to scoring in a league one play off semi final, or a home game against a relegated team.
However, the Puskas award is meant to be a simple award to the best goal of the season, and for consistency’s sake, if a goal scored in front of less than 100 people in the Irish Women’s league is worthy of a nomination then surely goals in the Barclays Premier League should be equally as valid, and Van Persie (and the rest of the goals nominated at the World Cup) should get no special consideration for the context in which the goal was scored.
The worst part of it is, no one really seems to notice. It’s almost like we’ve been fine tuned to just accept that a goal scored/performance at the World Cup is just automatically better than one in normal, club football because, well… it’s the World Cup. Except that’s not a reason and it should never be.
Truly great goals have been scored at World Cups and often it’s because playing on that stage brings out the best in players, but it’d be a shame if some even better footballing moments in ‘ordinary’ non-World Cup football were lost in time because they weren’t considered important enough to compete with FIFA’s precious tournament.