A couple of days ago, FIFA released the shortlist for 2018 ‘THE BEST’ award, the shortlisted players are Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal/Juventus, Mohammed Salah of Egypt/Liverpool and Luca Modric of Croatia/Real Madrid. Also at the ceremony, a 10 man shortlist for the Puskas award(best goal of 2017/2018) was announced with some exciting goals scored by players from different parts of the globe included in the list. But one name that struck me was Lionel Messi who was included in recognition to his effort against Nigeria at the world cup.
The inclusion of the Argentine is quite shocking, reason being that the goal that qualifies him for the award has no spectacle to it. Let’s take a flashback to the goal that was scored in the first half of the match. Messi received a long overhead pass from Ever Banega, brought down the ball, outran Kenneth Omeruo in defence and fired past Uzoho into the back of the net. With all due respect to Messi’s brilliance this goal is one of the easiest scored in the world cup, while other players with outstanding strikes at the world cup did not get a look-in by FIFA.
It is bewildering to discover that only one of Denis Cheryshev’s strikes was included when he had three strikes that where far more spectacular than Messi’s. What about Edinson Cavani’s against Portugal, a first-time curling effort from the edge of the box. Ahmed Musa’s beautiful double for Nigeria against Iceland are diffcult to overlook, both goals epitomises a striker’s instinct, patience and technicality. Nacho(Spain), Mertens(Belgium), Coutinho(Brazil) and Xhaka(Switzerland) are more examples of players whose strikes should have replaced Messi’s on the list.
So why was Messi’s name included? Your guess is as good as mine. Since 2006, the Barcelona talisman has always been included in the final shorlist of the FIFA award, but after a season where Ronaldo, Salah and Modric obviously performed a long way better than Messi there was no justification of any form for him to be included in the shorlist.
But being FIFA’s ‘favourite’, the world football governing body decided to find a way to compensate him by including him in the shortlist, a move that has done no good in boosting their integrity.
FIFA has got to put their acts right….and fast!