The voters for FIFA’s annual awards are often far from the best at voting
FIFA’s annual award show, The Best Football Awards, honoring—you guessed it—the best in football recently came and passed. While the ceremony offered little other than host Idris Elba taking selfies with some the world’s most talented players, the best part of The Best Awards really comes in the show’s aftermath, when the ballots are revealed.
Every single vote for the four major awards—The Best FIFA Men’s Player, The Best FIFA Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach, and the The Best FIFA Women’s Coach—is revealed. National team coaches and captains show their allegiances to their peers, making for a fun examination in how much or how little they care about The Best.
After careful examination of too many spreadsheets, these are the different types of voters there are for The Best Awards.
The boring voter
Most of the voters fall into this category. They vote for the three eventual finalists in a given category. These ballots are not exactly bad, as the three finalists in most categories—other than The Best FIFA Women’s Player—are more or less deserving of the recognition. However, in a field where some of the voters had a bit more fun with their ballots, these are the people who clearly lack original thinking.
They all deserve public shaming, but because the list is so long, only a few will be singled out. Many only came up with basic ballots on one occasion, like Netherlands men’s coach Dick Advocaat, whose votes for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar are just a continuation of the blandness that the Dutch men’s side is suffering from. Same goes for US captain Michael Bradley, whose votes for Zinédine Zidane, Massimiliano Allegri, and Antonio Conte adds to the list of problems the US men’s team is facing.
None, though, are as banal as a certain quartet, who managed to go the expected route on both possible occasions. No one voting on The Best FIFA Women’s Player or Coach managed to do this, thankfully, but four people did so in the male equivalent categories. To Azerbaijan captain Rashad Sadygov, Lebanon captain Hassan Maatouk, Austria coach Marcel Koller, and Brazil coach Tite: you should all be ashamed of yourselves.
The voter who doesn’t watch women’s soccer
The boring group, rejoice; you are not The Worst. That title has been saved for many of the voters who submitted ballots for The Best FIFA Women’s Player and The Best FIFA Women’s Coach, but voted for people who should not have made the final three.
This group includes the people who voted for Olivier Echouafni for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach. Echouafni somehow got a nomination despite leading France to an underwhelming quarterfinal exit at this summer’s European Championships and subsequently got fired less than a year into the job. He was nominated against nine other people who accomplished some success, certainly not making him The Best, and making the 41 people who voted for him The Worst.
The same goes for people who voted for Deyna Castellaños, the talented Venezuelan youngster, and Carli Lloyd, the impactful American veteran, for The Best FIFA Women’s Player. While their achievements should not be tossed aside, they simply did not have performances this year that should bring them into the conversation.
The voter who votes for their friends
Now that we have gotten The Worst of The Best voters out of the way, it is time to celebrate the creative and well educated voting members. This group goes to show that, regardless of how biased many of us think the media or fans are, players and coaches are also just as biased.
This group also includes a heavy amount of the voting population, as many voted with the shared club or country in mind. There were many male players that did so in regards to players and coaches, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, who voted for each other, fellow Real Madrid teammates, and coach Zinédine Zidane in well deserved nods.
Few in this group top Diego Godin, though, who voted for Luis Suárez, his Uruguay teammate, first, Atlético Madrid teammate Antoine Griezmann second, and leaving club rival Cristiano Ronaldo off the ballot altogether, instead electing to pick Lionel Messi. He also elected to give Diego Simeone, his club coach, the first spot on his coach ballot and left Zidane off his top three.
The voter who does not vote for their friends
The voting members of The Best FIFA Football Awards have found the best way to notify their colleagues that they hate them, by not choosing them as The Best.
If Carlo Ancelotti wanted further proof that Arjen Robben wanted him out of Bayern Munich, he could look no further than Robben’s The Best FIFA Men’s Coach ballot, which did not have Ancelotti’s name on, though Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer both voted for him. Additionally, Jordan Henderson voted for old Liverpool pal Luis Suárez, supposedly filling his friend quota, but he did not vote for fellow Englishman Harry Kane.
Similarly, France’s Corinne Diacre and the Netherlands’ Sarina Wiegman did not vote for the players they coach at the international level. Now, one could suggest that many of these hard working, well respected individuals were taking their duties so seriously when voting that they just could not vote for their friends. That might make them the best voters, but the worst friends.
The voter who does not care about the status quo
Finally, it is time to crown the best of the The Best FIFA Football Awards voters. These voters are the ones that brought the most entertainment to the ballots by voting for people who did not make the final three in their categories.
This happened more so in the votes for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award than in the others, and considering the final three nominees, that does not come as a shock. Some of the people in this category are also included in the group of voters who vote for their friends, like Australia’s Lisa de Vanna, who voted for fellow Australian Sam Kerr, but also voted for Denmark’s Pernille Harder and Germany’s Dzsenifer Maroszán.
Honorable mention must be given to the Chinese Taipei women’s national team captain Yu Hsiu-chin and the Tanzania women’s team coach Sebastian Mkoma, who defied the status quo for both the The Best FIFA Women’s Player award and The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award (though they both voted for Olivier Echouafni, so some plaudits must be held back).
The voter who provided the most entertainment with his ballot is Manuel Neuer, who unashamedly voted for all of his friends and avoided the top three in his ballots for The Best FIFA Men’s Player and The Best FIFA Men’s Coach. He casted his player ballots for international teammate Toni Kroos and club teammates Robert Lewandowski and Arturo Vidal, and voted for national team coach Joachim Löw, recently fired club coach Carlo Ancelotti, and former club coach Pep Guardiola. He is not just the best friend; he is also the best The Best voter, providing entertainment when an outcome is certain. Neuer is simply the best of The Best.
Follow Pardeep on Twitter @pcattry.