Lionel Messi scoops top award at the 2022 FIFA Best ceremony in Paris

Mick the Ram

Feb 28, 2023

The FIFA Best awards ceremony took place in Paris on Monday 27 February to celebrate the top performer across football for last year and it was Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi who scooped the men’s player of the year; with Lionel Scaloni making it an Argentinian double by being named coach of the year.

Others to have a successful evening were: Alexia Putellas, Emiliano Martinez, Sara Wiegman, Mary Earps, Marcin Oleksy, and Luka Lochoshvili. There was also a special recognition award in honour of the late great Pele.

These awards are usually held in the Autumn, but were moved forward this time around due to the lateness of the Qatar World Cup, which did not conclude until the week before Christmas.

Messi’s second time as winner

These awards were first given out in this format in 2016, after FIFA relinquished control of the Ballon d’Or awards, which are now overseen by the magazine France Football. The first winner of what is regarded as the top award of Best Men’s Player was Cristiano Ronaldo, who successfully retained his trophy the following year.

Polish international striker Robert Lewandowski had won the previous two before this one, which is for achievements in the season 2021/22, but with the World Cup  included. Croatian midfielder Luka Modric picked up the award in 2018, followed in 2019 by Messi, meaning this is the little maestro’s second success.

International jury make up the panel of decision makers

The voting process for the winners is undertaken by an international jury consisting of the present coaches and captains of all 211 FIFA member nations and their men’s and women’s national teams; plus one nominated journalist from each represented territory, and fans that are registered with FIFA’s official website. There was a ballot between 12 January and 3 February of this year, after which a shortlist was drawn up for the most popular.

Voting processes varied slightly

The winners were determined slightly differently in each category with the men’s awards (Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, and Coach of the Year) being voted by the men’s national team coaches and team captains, football journalists, plus a fan vote on FIFA’s site; with each voting group comprising of 25 percent of the final results.

In the women’s awards it was the same except it was women’s national coaches and team captains casting the votes. For the best goal (the Puskas award) only two two groups voted, those being the fans and an expert panel, with each representing 50 percent of the vote. The Fair Play Award nominations were compiled by FIFA in collaboration with football stakeholders.

When picking the best world elevens it was FIFPro, the global organisation that represents professional players worldwide, who oversaw the voting process; with nearly 25,000 professional players from both the men’s and women’s games making their choices. When it came to the fan award, this was entirely a fan vote.

There were ten awards handed out, including the special tribute; they were as follows:

The Men’s FIFA Player of the Year 

The Argentina captain Lionel Messi saw off the challenge of his PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema to take the award. He said it was a pleasure to accept the award, but paid trubute to the whole Argentinian team saying it was partly recognition for what they did as a group. He went on to say: “This year was crazy for me to fulfil my dream of winning the World Cup, and it is the greatest thing that has happened to me in my career. Few players get to do it and thanks to God, I was lucky to do so.” 

The Men’s FIFA Coach of the Year

It was maybe inevitable that Lionel Scaloni would win this award after guiding his Argentinian side to their third World Cup success in Qatar. He comfortably beat Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guadiola who were his main challengers. The winning coach dedicated his award to the people of his country: “There is nothing better than seeing your people happy; we played for them, so this is for them.”

The Men’s FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year

From being Arsenal’s back up keeper to becoming Argentina’s Number One choice and then saving crucial spot kicks in the penalty shoot-out, earned Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez the top goalkeeper award. The Aston Villa stopper had a fabulous World Cup and that was enough to see off Thibaut Courtois and Yassime Bounou. In accepting his award he thanked his parents calling them “his idols”. 

The Women’s FIFA Player of the Year

Winning the honour for the second year in a row was Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain, after guiding Barcelona to domestic titles. She seemed genuinely surprised to win the award beating off strong competition in the USA’s Alex Morgan and England’s Beth Mead. She said in her acceptance speech: “Thanks to all these persons who have been there every day during my whole life; I am who I am; I am made up of bits of everyone who I have come across along the way.”

The Women’s FIFA Coach of the Year

Sarina Wiegman was the overwhelming choice as coach of the year after leading England to their first major trophy at Euros. She held off the challenge of Sonia Bompastor and Pia Sundhage, but probably was the most comprehensive of the nights winners. Collecting the award for the third time she said: “It is incredible to be here right now and celebrate women’s football in the world.”

The Women’s FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year

The winner of goalkeeper of the tournament at the Euros was enough to earn Mary Earps the keeper of the year accolade too. The Manchester United and England stopper, who pipped Christiane Endler and Ann-Katrin Berger to claim her success, was clearly shocked when accepting the award, saying she felt very honoured to be holding the trophy, adding with a nod to her mental health issues: “Anyone who has ever been in a dark place, just know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The FIFA Puskas Award

This award celebrates the individual in either the men’s or women’s game, who scored the best goal of the year, and the winner was amputee footballer Marcin Oleksy of Polish side Warta Poznan, who sent a stunning overhead volley past the Stal Rzeszow keeper with the help of his crutches. His goal was judged to be better than the two others nominations, who were Dimitri Payet and Richarlison.

It is named after legendary Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas, regarded by many as one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, scoring 514 goals across his career with Budapest Honved and Real Madrid.

The FIFA Fair Play Award

There were three very worthy final nominees for this category that demonstrated three different types of incredible gesture; but really there could only be one winner. Georgian defender Luka Lochoshvili, who now plays in Italy for Cremonese, but in February last year was playing in the Austrian Bundesliga, and after a mid-pitch collision, Austria Vienna’s Georg Teigl lay unconscious on the ground.

The quick thinking Lochoshvili recognised that the player had swallowed his own tongue and was choking to death. He was able to free the tongue and essentially saved his opponents life. At the ceremony he joined the proceedings via a video link and said: “I am really happy that I saved Georg’s life and I wish you all good health in life, which is the most important.”

The other two finalists for the award were: France’s Eduardo Camavinga, who stepped into the Ukraine changing room to offer a special message of support to his opponents, during an Under-21 match; and Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, who sportingly flagged his own hand ball goal to the referee, who had failed to spot the offence.

The FIFA Fan Award 

The Qatar World Cup had its fair share of critics for various reasons, but the different supporters from around the globe did manage to create some terrific atmospheres in state-of-the-art stadiums. None more so than the Argentinian fans who turned up in incredible numbers to follow their team and cheer them on to successfully lifting the trophy.

Their relentless chanting and passion earned them the award as fan(s) of the year. 82-year-old Carlos “Tula Bombo” Pascual who has attended every World Cup, along with his drum, since 1974, collected the award on behalf of all those Argentinians who made the trip.

The runners up could consider themselves unlucky not to win as they created their own special memory of the tournament. Not only did the Japanese sing and chant none-stop throughout each of their fixtures, but they astonishingly stayed behind afterwards and cleaned up the stadiums once their games had finished.

In truth were it to literally be fan of the year and not fans then the supporter who took third place should have won. Saudi Arabian Abdullah Alsulmi, spent 55 days walking from Jeddah to Doha, across the Arabian Desert, to watch his team play, showing remarkable dedication and fortitude.

The FIFPro world eleven’s

The Best 11 of 2022 for both the men and women, received votes from 68 different countries from all around the world. Upwards of 25,000 were balloted and the rules were that the teams would be made up of one goalkeeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards. Then the final spot in the team would go to the next player receiving the most votes.

This had the effect of the men’s team lining up with a 3-3-4 formation; whilst the women were a more traditional 4-3-3.

The men’s team: Thibaut Courtois (goalkeeper); Achraf Hakimi, Joao Cancelo, Virgil Van Dijk (defenders); Kevin De Bruyne, Luka Modric, Casemiro (midfielders); Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Karim Benzema (forwards).

The women’s team: Christiane Endler (goalkeeper); Lucy Bronze, Mapi Leon, Wendie Renard, Leah Williamson (defenders); Lena Oberdorf, Alexia Putellas, Keira Walsh (midfielders); Sam Kerr, Beth Mead, Alex Morgan (forwards).

The FIFA Best Honour Award

In special recognition of probably the best player ever to grace a football pitch, and who sadly left us at the very end of last year, there was a richly deserved award for Pele. With the legendary Brazilian’s family in the audience, a video highlighting just some of his incredible brilliance was played, before the controversial FIFA president Gianni Infantino paid him a tribute saying: “Pele is eternal; he is with us and will always be with us.”

The great man’s wife, Marcia Aoki, came on stage to receive his award, although Ronaldo who had joined her, held onto it the trophy due to its considerable weight. She spoke of the tremendous honour she had in accepting the award at what she called “this magnificent FIFA tribute to Edson Pele.” Then fittingly she said: “I have three words to say to God… and my three words are Grateful. Grateful. And grateful.”

Three simple words that summed up everyone’s appreciation of the greatest football player ever.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.