FIFA hands out some hardware
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
The votes are in for FIFA’s “world player of the year” and, unsurprisingly, the title goes to Lionel Messi. Clad in a polka dot jacket and matching bow tie, the Argentinian imp took to the stage to accept the award people predicted he would win months ago.
It’s Messi’s fourth Ballon d’Or in a row and it’s well deserved. He’s head and shoulders above the rest of the world right now. That fact was emphasized by his shattering of Gerd Müller’s goal record (85) for a calendar year with 91 in 69 games. It seems to be a figure better suited for a hockey player of the ‘80s than a soccer player. But Messi is real, as any Spanish Primera club will tell you. In fact, he’s too real.
One of the knocks on Messi in the past has been his failure to replicate his club success for his country, but he safely put that behind him this year, scoring 12 goals for Argentina. Toss in his ridiculous ability to spot the perfect pass along with his unstoppable dribbling and knack for finding the back of the net and it’s obvious that he’s the complete package. The Argentinian finished with 41.6 per cent of the vote, Cristiano Ronaldo came second with 23.7 per cent, and Andrés Iniesta finished third with 10.9 per cent. Good to see that the world agrees.
For the women’s game, American Abby Wambach was named top dog with Brazilian Marta and fellow American Alex Morgan finishing second and third respectively. Similar to Messi, the result was never in any real doubt. After leading the United States to Olympic gold, Wambach was poised to take home the hardware halfway through the year.
More importantly though, was the exclusion of Canadian star Christine Sinclair. In the words of Canada’s coach John Herdman, her absence from the top three was a “travesty.” And he’s right. Sinclair almost single-handedly drove the national team to the bronze medal, picking up the Golden Boot after six goals (an Olympic record) in the tournament. She finished the year with 23 goals.
It’s just another FIFA snub. Step out of line and they’ll make sure you pay for it. Canada’s captain is already serving a four-game suspension for her comments following the Canada-USA semi-final and it’s clear that FIFA didn’t quite think that was punishment enough.
Spanish national team coach Vicente del Bosque took home the Coach of the Year award for the men after guiding La Roja to a European title, and American national coach Pia Sundhage took home the honour on the women’s side.