Lionel Messi won his third FIFA The Best award, which recognises him as the best footballer on the planet between December 19, 2022 and August 20, 2023, but the legendary Lothar Matthaus disagrees with the decision.
La Pulga was tied on 48 points with Norway’s Erling Haaland of Manchester City, but the tie-breaker criteria, which prioritizes the votes of the captains of the world teams, gave Messi as the winner.
That was despite the fact that the City forward won the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and the Golden Boot in the 2022-23 in his best season to date and Matthaus believes Haaland was unfairly overlooked.
He argued to Sky Deutschland that for him, Messi was not worthy of The Best award as, according to him, he ‘did nothing’ at his clubs during the period marked, both at PSG and Inter Miami.
Matthaus was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1990 after captaining Germany to the World Cup title at Italia 90, as well as winning the inaugural edition of the ‘FIFA World Player of the Year’ in 1991 so he knows what it takes to win these awards.
And Matthaus himself had already criticized France Football for awarding its eighth Ballon d’Or to Messi last year, also saying that Haaland should have been the winner and not the Argentine.
The FIFA World Player of the Year was the predecessor of The Best awards, as France Football and FIFA unified their individual best of the year awards into one trophy titled the FIFA Ballon D’Or until 2016.
2022 World Cup wasn’t a factor
At a first glance, many would expect that Messi‘s World Cup tournament would have been a factor in his victory but reading the fine print of the criteria proves otherwise.
The award leaves out the Qatar 2022 World Cup Final, which took place on December 18, 2022, where Messi was crowned world champion with Argentina.
The victory over France in Doha was awarded in 2021/22’s ceremony instead, which was also won by Messi on February 27, 2023.
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