It is Ballon d’Or time again and what would the awards for the “best” in the beautiful game be without a bit of controversy.
The list of nominees for Men’s Player of the Year, which is the actual Ballon d’Or, would seem straightforward enough with nominees the caliber of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and 2014 winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Interestingly it is the Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo whose credentials are being called into question this year with many calling for a Barcelona sweep, and the inclusion of Luis Suarez.
The three finalists for the FIFA Women’s World Footballer of the Year are Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash), Aya Miyama (Japan/Okayama Yunogo Belle), and Célia Šašić (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt). All worthy nominees but the view from this (U.S.) side of the Atlantic is that Lloyd’s World Cup heroics must be honored with this year’s award. Lloyd supporters may already be on edge given the curious omission of her wonder strike from just across the midfield stripe in the World Cup Final versus Japan for the Puskas Award.
The three nominees for the Puskas Award for the Most Beautiful Goal of the Year are Alessandro Florenzi – AS Roma – FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League, Wendell Lira, Atletico vs. GO Goianesia, Campeonato Goiano (Brazil), and Lionel Messi – Athletic Bilbao FC Barcelona, Copa del Rey (Spain).
All tremendous goals, Messi run through half of the Athletic Bilbao defense gets my vote, but given the context and brilliance of the goal itself, Lloyd’s gem should be in the top three.
The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football and FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football awards have also been announced. In alphabetical order, the contenders are:
Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martínez (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award. Jill Ellis (USA/USA national team), Mark Sampson (Wales/English national team) and Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japanese national team) are the contenders for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award.
Judging club coaches against international managers can be a tricky thing so we will have to see how the voters choose.
The voting process is often questioned so here are the voting rules from the horse’s mouth, FIFA’s own website.
All of the nominees were confirmed after a voting process, which was open to the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams of the 207 member associations as well as international media representatives selected by FIFA and France Football.
The percentages of the collected votes are as follows (number of votes/number of associations):
Voting for men’s awards: 165
Member associations (captains & coaches): 79.71%
Media representatives: 88.60%
Voting for women’s awards: 136
Member associations (captains & coaches): 76,83%
Media representatives: 80.92%
The voting procedure for each of the awards was supervised and monitored by the independent observer PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Switzerland.
The awards will be announced at a star-studded event in Zurich, Switzerland on January 11, 2016.