In a world where thousands of professional soccer games take place each year, contested by thousands of watchable top players, they all have one common desire: to be the best.
“Who is the best player in the world?” is an article headline or social media video title that we’ve become very accustomed to. It is also the most common debate among fans. FIFA, football’s governing body, holds an annual awards ceremony to announce just that. The “FIFA The Best” award takes place in February and should settle the debate at least for 2023 with eight illustrious categories to choose from.
Fans, national players, international managers and media representatives select the winners in the following categories:
**- The best player
– The best male player
– The best goalkeeper in women
– The best goalkeeper in men
– The best women coach
– The best men’s coach
– The Puskas Gate of the Year
– FIFA Fan Award
Beth Mead and Keira Walsh lead the nominations in the women’s best player category after their Euro 2022 win. Those are the favourites, but many other talented players make the list.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the Ballon d’Or in 2022 but spent most of the year with an anterior cruciate ligament injury on the touchline, bringing the focus back to the English players winning their country’s first major international football trophy since 1966 have won.
In the men’s best player category, the votes are heavily influenced by last year’s World Cup in Qatar. There are 14 names on the list, although many struggle to see one man as the winner.
“I think not many people look past Lionel Messi because he became Argentina’s all-time top scorer in World Cup history in Qatar.” revealed Mark Scott, UEFA Champions League commentator.
“He broke the attendance record at the FIFA World Cup and of course his team also had the small achievement of winning the World Cup.”
Further honorable mentions would have to go to Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick despite losing in the World Cup final. Joining Mbappe is Erling Haaland, who has been on an unprecedented pace of goalscoring in the Premier League since joining Manchester City in the summer, with 25 goals in just 19 games. Achraf Hakimi also received a nomination for his exploits in guiding Morocco to the semi-finals of the World Cup, a historic feat for his country and Africa.
In terms of coaches, much like his Argentinian counterpart, Lionel Scaloni finds himself at the forefront when it comes to coaching the national team to their third World Cup. His lack of experience in a managerial role makes his performance all the more impressive, but Morocco coach Walid Regruagi is also shortlisted for the player’s award for the same reasons as Achraf Hakimi.
Sarina Wiegman has been nominated in the Best Women’s Coach category for her impressive unbeaten record, as her title as England Coach is the most likely.
“It’s not even a question for me,” Emma Sanders explained.
“There’s no point in having any of the other nominees. I mean, it has to be Wiegman. She hasn’t lost a single game. She’s led the team to the top of the World Cup qualifying group without conceding a single goal. You has won Euros and hasn’t been beaten in over two years, which is probably the easiest award I can think of.”
There was also World Cup dominance this year in the Fan-of-the-Year Awards. Japanese fans received a nomination for their etiquette in Qatar, which helped clean up the stadiums after matches. Argentina’s supporters could give their country a clean victory with their tireless support for FIFA’s recognition of the eventual winners. And on an individual level, Abdullah Al Salmi of Saudi Arabia has been nominated for his efforts after trekking to Qatar from his home country to see his team play at the World Cup. There is no doubt that all three fan nominations deserved the award.
The FIFA 2023 The Best Awards will be presented on February 27th. Until then, the debate will continue.
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