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The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

“The Best” FIFA Football Awards

Awards winners on stage at the end of the Best FIFA Football Awards 2023 in London, UK, 15 January 2024. EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, most commonly known as FIFA, annually presents a number of awards to what the previous years’ statistics prove to be the best players of the year. This year, the 2023 “The Best” FIFA Football Awards Ceremony was held in London on January 15th, 2024. The awards given at the ceremony consisted of the Best Men’s Player, the Best Women’s Player, the Best Men’s Coach, the Best Women’s Coach, the Best Men’s Goalkeeper, the Best Women’s Goalkeeper, and other various awards such as the Best Goal Award, otherwise known as the Puskás Award, the FIFA Special Award, the Fair Play Award, and the Fan Award. 

The big talk of the night centered around the FIFA Best Men’s Players Award, where the three finalists were Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, and Kylian Mbappe. All three men had exceptional seasons, with Messi and Haaland tied with 48 scoring points and Kylian Mbappe with 35. Their most notable achievements over the year was Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or won at the age of 36, and his first and last World Cup win with Argentina of his career. Mbappe led France to their second World Cup Final in two years, where he was given the Golden Boot Award over Messi for scoring a hat trick in the World Cup final despite losing. Erling Haaland broke a number of records his first season in the Premier League with Manchester City, the biggest ones being the fastest men’s player to 50 Premier League goals, which he achieved in 48 games, and the record of goals in a first Premier League season, being 36. He led his club in goals, helping them to win a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

With the number of scoring points being tied between Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland, the tiebreak was decided by the highest number of votes cast in by men’s national team captains in 5-point scores. In the end, Messi controversially won with the score of 107 votes to Haaland’s 64, naming him The Best Men’s Player for the second year in a row. This sparked controversy, with many fans claiming Haaland deserved the award over Messi due to having the most goals on the most successful team of the year. But with Messi’s long lasting and legendar career as one of the best coming to an end, his reputation had a large factor in the voting from numerous coaches. It’s entirely possible that some votes were based more on his name than his actual achievements during the year. 

After the Awards Ceremony Ian Wright, a former Arsenal player and legend amongst soccer stars pointed out, “If you really looked at what Haaland’s done, he easily should have won that but that’s just the way it is and that is something that they have to look at because he should not have to go through it; he’s thinking, ‘I should have won that,’ just like Lewandowski when he should have won it.” (Ian Wright). He also voiced his opinion of how fans should have a factor in breaking ties instead of national team players and coaches. 

As for the other categories, The Best Women’s Player of the Year award was presented to Aitana Bonmatí with 52 scoring points at the age of 26. She bested the other two nominees, Linda Caicedo with 40 scoring points and Jennifer Hermoso with 36 scoring points. 

FIFA crowned Sarina Wiegman as 2023’s Best Women’s Coach over her two competitors Emma Hayes and Jonathan Giráldez, out scoring them in a total of 28 points to their 18 and 14. As head coach of the Lionesses professional soccer team and the head coach of New England’s Women’s National Team, Wiegman has had an extremely successful career, this being the fourth time she won FIFA’s award. 

Pep Guardiola was named FIFA’s Best Men’s Coach of the year after leading his legendary 2023 Manchester City team to win a historic Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup treble, which has only been done nine times in history. To add to the trophies, Pep’s Manchester City also won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup before ending the year. Pep has won a treble once before with his 2009 Barcelona squad, and when asked by hosts which team he believed was better, his 2009 Barcelona team in their prime, or his current Manchester City lineup, Pep shockingly dropped an F-bomb on the mic instead of answering, shocking the audience.

While goal scoring is an important factor of the game, so is goalkeeping, and the Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2023 was Mary Earps with 28 scoring points for her performance on the England Women’s National Team and her club team Manchester United. On the other side of the sport, the FIFA awarded Ederson with the Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year title. Not only is he the goalkeeper for Pep’s famous Manchester City team, he’s also the goalkeeper for the Brazilian National Team, earning him 23 scoring points. 

The Best Goal of the Year, otherwise known as the famous Puskás Award was given to Guilherme Madruga, a midfielder who plays for Botafogo Futebol Clube. This award was given for his stunning bicycle kick scored from twenty yards in his game versus Novorizontino while he was on loan. At the awards show, he unveiled his new contract to confirm playing with top division Brazillian club Cuiabá Esporte Clube. On stage during his speech, Madruga announced, “[…]now it has been announced that I will play in Brazil’s top division. It’s not at all what I had planned, but it’s all for the better.” (Guilherme Madruga). 

Additional Awards, such as the FIFA Special Award was presented to legendary women’s Brazilian player Marta for her impact on the sport, especially on the women’s side, and over twenty years of hard work and dedication to soccer as a whole. The FIFA Fair Play Award was given to Brazil for their fight against racism in defending their player Vinicius Jr. Lastly, the Fan Award went to Hugo Daniel “Toto” Iniguez, who went viral for feeding his son during an Argentine Primera Division game.

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