FIFA Best Awards – RECAP
- Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to Men’s Player
- Megan Rapinoe beats Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan to Women’s Player
- Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp wins Men’s Coach, Jill Ellis takes women’s equivalent
- Men’s World XI: Alisson; Ramos, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Marcelo, Modric; Mbappe, Messi, Hazard; Ronaldo
- Women’s World XI: Van Veenendaal; Bronze, Renard, Fischer, O’Hara; Henry, Ertz; Martens, Lavelle, Rapinoe; Morgan
Before I say a final goodbye – click here to re-live that god awful moment of television involving Jose Mourinho, Ilaria D’Amico and… aliens. It’s been a pleasure, farewell.
For some reaction to tonight’s awards, we have some pieces which might be to your tasting… Fans reacted hilariously to Leeds’ Fair Play award win and Ronaldo was nowhere to be seen – but his fans were after Messi took the top prize.
9.10pm: The show is now wrapping up as it started, with a lovely bit of ballet. If only D’Amaco had as much poise on stage as these pointy-toed dancers.
9.03pm: Now, to round off the night, we have the Women’s Player. Lucy Bronze, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are on the shortlist. And Rapinoe takes it!
Some words from the USA star: “I can’t tell you how heavy it is – Messi could have given me a head up! He’s held it enough times! I’m always lost for words, but I’d like to thank my family. All of the coaches that I’ve had throughout my whole life, but particularly this year. All of my team-mates that put up with all my s*** all the time.
“This was an incredible year for women’s football. For those of you just realising that now, you’re a little late but we’ll forgive you. To be a part of it is indescribable. Gianni has stolen some thunder speaking about issues in the world. Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly have inspired with the way they have taken on racism.
“If we really want to have meaningful change with racism, LGBT and women’s rights, everyone needs to be as outraged about these things. That would be the most inspiring thing to me. We have such an incredible opportunity as professional football players.”
8.52pm: The big one. Men’s Player is about to be announced. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Mess and Virgil van Dijk in the running. Gianni Infantino says racism is not fine “anymore”, perhaps misusing his English slightly, and urges everyone to put a halt to it before announcing the winner, who is… LIONEL MESSI. Apologies for my poor grasp of Spanish, but all I can say is Messi looks content with another swanky gong for his mantle.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Alisson Becker accpets his award
8.51pm: The Men’s World XI has been announced – but it’s only 10 of them. Ronaldo is not there to stand on stage but was on the projection above.
Men’s World XI: Alisson; Ramos, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Marcelo, Modric; Mbappe, Messi, Hazard; Ronaldo.
8.43pm: Mourinho leaves the stage and is called back by D’Amaco, who for some reason asks him to imagine life on another planet. Your guess is as good as mine. She then gets at asking who would manage a World XI, to which Mourinho suggests it has to be a coach out of work, nudge nudge, wink wink. He eventually leaves the stage without being asked and D’Amaco playfully bemoans his eagerness to keep walking away from her. I’m with Jose.
8.39pm: A chance for England to shine now as we await the winner of Women’s Coach. Phil Neville is up against USWNT manager Jill Ellis and Holland coach Sarina Wiegman for this one. The pristine Jose Mourinho comes to the stage to announce the award. And Ellis takes it home. No long wait this time as she makes her way to the stage with a knowing look.
8.33pm: Men’s Goalkeeper now, and Alisson Becker, Ederson Moraes and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are pitting wits. Interestingly, no SFX for the men. Alisson takes it! Well, he wins it but takes two minutes to get to the stage, with his name having to be called again by Gullit before getting to the stage. “Sorry,” he says, like his coach, upon accepting the award.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk eyeing prize
8.25pm: Highlights of the Women’s World Cup now playing ahead of the Women’s World XI announcement.
Women’s World XI: Van Veenendaal; Bronze, Renard, Fischer, O’Hara; Henry, Ertz; Martens, Lavelle, Rapinoe; Morgan.
8.20pm: Ah right, some opera now.
8.18pm: Ah dear, I have to say, I don’t think D’Amico is the “world-class host” FIFA promised. She’s currently conducting an excruciating interview with Fabio Capello, who was starting straight down the camera while she spoke to him for the first minute of the exchange.
8.14pm: Wow. Seriously, wow. Leeds United – Marcelo Bielsa, specifically – have won the Fair Play Award for allowing (ignore Pontus Jansson, I guess) Aston Villa to score in April after originally going 1-0 up when a Villa player was injured. Bielsa urged his side to allow Villa to score and they did. I mean, the situation came from perceived unsportsmanlike play AND Jansson literally tried to stop Villa scoring. All very odd. The message on the bizarre video FIFA played ended with the caption: “Not a great result for the team (Leeds) that day, but the team learnt a lesson in fair play”.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Jurgen Klopp accepts his gong
8.10pm: Non-stop action here and we have the Fair Play Award up next. Javier Zanetti joins the stage and is confronted with the meh statistic that he received “just” two red cards in his career.
8.04pm: Now, now, now – the inaugural Women’s Goalkeeper gong is up for grabs. Christiane Endler, Hedwig Lindahl and Sari van Veenendaal in the running for this one. For some utterly bizarre reason, they are using Windows 7 sound effects over the videos of the keepers’ saves to, I think, make them more impressive. Anyway, let’s gloss over the details and see who takes it home. Congratulations, Van Veenendaal!
7.58pm: We’ve now got the Fan Award. Silvia Grecco! She narrates the games of Palmeiras for her blind son Nikollas. A very touching story, well-deserved. She describes the scene to her son on stage, and moves some on-lookers to tears in doing so.
7.55pm: Some mutterings from Klopp, after he bangs the trophy on the desk: “Sorry. Wow. It’s quite heavy. What can I say? I have to thank a lot of people and start with my family, it’s great. No one would have expected this, 20, five, four years ago. We all know what an incredible job you (Pochettino) and Pep did. I have to thank my outstanding club Liverpool FC, to the owners and my team. You can only be as good as your team. I’m lucky to have such an incredible bunch of players.”
Klopp goes on to promote the Common Goal family, which he is part of, helping disadvantaged people throughout the world.
7.50pm: Next up we have the Men’s Coach. Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino the contenders. Guardiola has not made the trip – read into that what you will… And Klopp takes it home! Much deserved.
7.48pm: Here we go… Puskas award – Lionel Messi, Juan Fernando Quintero and Daniel Zsori up for it… Zsori wins! A terrific bicycle kick on his Hungarian league debut wins it! He is speaking in his native tongue, so not quite sure what he’s saying, but he couldn’t look less thrilled, to be honest.
7.42pm: An apology is in order – Klopp is, in fact, sporting a tuxedo, after all. He resisted as long as possible before putting it on but the Liverpool tracksuit has stayed at home.
7.38pm: Still going, to the stunned silence of the theatre. Really looking to the inevitable gag from Gullit about being light on your feet. Here he comes with D’Amico.
7.35pm: Nessun dorma has just belted out of the speakers and… wait, what’s this. Ballerinas. Ballerinas dancing about. There’s an orchestra below them plucking strings, tapping keys.
The show is about to get on the road at Teatro alla Scala…
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: The stage is set at Teatro alla Scala
Who were last year’s big winners?
Men’s Player: Luka Modric
Women’s Player: Marta
Men’s Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Men’s Coach: Didier Deschamps
Women’s Coach: Reynald Pedros
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Lionel Messi is looking sharp in Milan
Men’s World XI ‘leaked’
Some people just want to watch the world burn. Marca have ‘leaked’ the apparent Men’s World XI hours before we’ll find out for real.
‘Leaked’ Men’s World XI: Alisson; Ramos, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Marcelo; Modric, De Jong, Hazard; Mbappe, Messi, Ronaldo.
Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned waiting-til-it’s-announced fun?
For more on the leak, read here.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Marca leaked the Men’s World XI
How does the voting system work?
Fans were able to vote on the Men’s Player, Women’s Player, Men’s Coach and Women’s Coach awards during the summer. If not, you’ve missed your chance – this is no ITV talent show.
Fans’ suibmissions count for 25 per cent of the final vote, with FIFA’s selection committee finalising the decisions.
The remaining 75 per cent are distributed evenly between national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains as well as a select group of football journalists from those countries.
The selection panel who shortlist the initial Best Men’s Player and Best Men’s Coach awards includes many ex-players. Last year, it included Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Kaka, Fabio Capello and Ronaldo Nazario.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Jose Mourinho just could not stay away
En-ger-land, En-ger-land. You know the drill. English people, in general, don’t do well with these sort of events – accepting praise, dressing up all smartly, being good at stuff – it’s not us.
There are a few English names on shortlists, though, so who can bring (The Best) Football (Awards) home?
England full-back Lucy Bronze is one of three names up for Best Women’s Player after her part in England’s World Cup journey to the semi-finals.
Her manager, Phil Neville, can take home Best Women’s Coach, also, for his rejuvenation of the side.
In terms of the World XI, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane could very much squeeze their way in, while Milly Bright, Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Steph Houghton, Keira Walsh, Nikita Parris and Ellen White can make the Women’s equivalent.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Phil Neville is up for Women’s Coach
What awards are up for grabs?
Men’s Player, Women’s Player, Men’s Coach, Women’s Coach, Men’s Goalkeeper, Women’s Goalkeeper, Puskas Award, Fan Award, Fair Play (why?), Men’s World XI and Women’s World XI.
It’s a healthy list of accolades and to see who is nominated for each category, click here.
Hosting tonight’s action on stage will be AC Milan legend and underwhelming pundit Ruud Gullit and Italian commentator Ilaria D’Amico.
Both “world-class hosts”, according to FIFA. Hopefully not much cheesy humour on a morbid crowd, as is par for the course at these dos.
FIFA Best Awards LIVE: Jurgen Klopp arrives in typically relaxed attire
Jurgen Klopp‘s advice from Virgil van Dijk
Jurgen Klopp is in the running for the Best Men’s Coach award after leading Liverpool to the European Cup last season.
His talisman Virgil van Dijk could also scoop the top individual gong – and the Dutchman had some advice for him ahead of the event.
“We are not yet there, we are not at the Oscars and I have to thank my mum and my family and my coaches, they know how much I appreciate what they do,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“If something would happen tonight and if somebody asked me, then I have to mention them because without them I would not be here, that’s clear. They know that.
“Yes, we have a special team at Melwood and we try everything to be as successful as possible. Obviously it worked somehow but there’s still so much to do.
“It’s always really difficult to be here and think about what happened because half of the brain is already on Wednesday, to be honest, so that makes it obviously a bit tricky. But all good. Virg told me I have to wear a tuxedo, so I tried to find one. Then we will see what happens.”
Unfortunately, Klopp did not listen to his player’s advice, and is sporting a jumper and jeans.
GOOD EVENING, BUONA SERATA
And welcome to live coverage of, for its full name, The Best FIFA Football Awards. (With a TM, too).
The finest footballers from around the world are in Milan for the awards show which will dish out 11 gongs, from The Best Men’s Player to The Best Women’s Goalkeeper, and nine things in between.
The gala runs from 6.30pm to 9pm and is the fourth consecutive year this awards format has taken place, after the Ballon d’Or deviated back to France Football’s control.