The Best – Controversy? (Part One)

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 26, 2019 12:12

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The Best – Controversy? (Part One)

By Satish Sekar in Milano © Satish Sekar (September 25th 2019)

Interred with their Bones

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony eulogises his slain commander: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

FIFA for all its faults, especially in the past, should not be blamed for at least some of the controversies that engulfed Monday’s gala.

The selection processes are more inclusive of football people than previously, and it’s far more transparent. Instead of blaming FIFA for awards people disagree with, look at the process, and if you disagree with choices, reserve blame for those responsible – those who voted.

That said, some issues need investigation and explanation. The votes of the Egyptian coach, Shawki Gareeb, who replaced the sacked Javier Aguirre, and the Pharaohs’ captain Ahmed Elmohamady for Mohamed Salah seem to have gone missing.

The Egyptian FA has demanded answers after Salah reacted to the perceived lack of support.
Sudan’s coach Zdravko Logarušić insists that FIFA altered his vote for Salah and gave it to Messi.

Nicaragua’s captain Juan Barrera said on social media that he never received the e-mail to register his vote. He insists that he did not vote for Messi, despite appearing on the list of captains who voted (for Messi).

It should also be noted that the Men’s World XI consisted only of players who played in Europe.

While Europe may dominate world football is it so dominant that all others are excluded?

The Process

But once again any and all complaints on this are misplaced if laid exclusively at FIFA’a door.

Even now the process, far more transparent than previously, is misunderstood. FIFPro are very involved. They choose the World XI. It’s fellow players that choose the team – blame them if your favourites are excluded.

Race and Men

There are claims that FIFA just won’t acknowledge Africans. There is no doubt that Sénégal’s Sadio Mané had a great season for country and club. His Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah also excelled.

They shared the EPL Golden Boot with the also snubbed Gabon International, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese international helped Arsenal reach the Europa League Final as well as share England’s top-scorer prize. The Liverpool duo won the Champions League too.

Include them, but at whose expense. Are players really going to drop Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? No chance. Okay what about Kylian Mbappé. The French international deserves his place too. He scored more than 40 goals for his club and carried PSG’s attack as Neymar Jr was carrying injuries throughout the season. European competition matters, but is not the be all and end all.

Mané and Salah are clearly deserving too, especially as they featured higher on the best player list than some who made the team. So, what’s the answer? A more attacking formation perhaps.

The midfield included Eden Hazard and Frenkie de Jong – clearly deserved on their performances, but Luka Modrić? He deservedly won last season, but neither he nor club performed to expected levels this time.

Sergio Ramos was included in defence, but as a full-back as Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk were definitely the deserved centre-backs in a four-man defence. Marcelo was the other full back.

Both selections were controversial. Liverpool full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson were Champions League winners and contributed more assists than other defenders, but those are attacking statistics. Nevertheless, there’s certainly an arguable case for them, but that applies to Kalidou Koulibaly too.

So here’s my choice for what it’s worth.

Alisson Becker

Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk, Kalidou Koulibaly

Frenkie de Jong

Sadio Mané, Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah

Kylian Mbappé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi.

The Women’s XI Omissions

It’s good to see that Women’s football was given the respect its due. But the Women’s XI had notable exclusions too.

Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema is a phenomenon. Aged just 23 she is already the Netherlands’ leading goal-scorer, male or female. She has a long time to add to her tally.

Along with Barçelona’s Lieke Martens, Miedema played in the World Cup Final – the most successful in the history of women’s football. Martens also played an important part in the Catalan club reaching their first Champions League Final.

Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was the only Dutch player named in the Women’s World XI.
But there’s an even more glaring omission.

Norway’s Ada Hegerberg is not just an exceptional player – she’s a role model in every sense of the word. Outspokenly active on parity of pay, she refuses to play for Norway and sacrificed her chance to further show-case her talent.

Hegerberg’s achievements are phenomenal. This season she led from the front, scoring a 16-minute in the Champions League final. Her team, Olympique Lyonnais, dismantled Barçelona, winning an unprecedented 4th Champions League title in a row – something not even the superb Real Madrid team of Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskás et al could match.

She also won the treble.

What more was she expected to do?

Here’s my Women’s XI for what it’s worth. I left out a World Cup winner to accommodate Martens and Hegerberg.

Sari van Veenendaal

Lucy Bronze, Wendie Renard, Kelley O’Hara

Amandine Henry, Julie Ertz,

Marta, Megan Rapinoe, Lieke Martens

Alex Morgan,

Ada Hegerberg

But let’s not forget that these teams were chosen by fellow players, so lay blame, if any, at their door.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 26, 2019 12:12