The Best
January 9, 2017 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Cristiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd and Claudio Ranieri, Silvia Neid were The Best in 2016, according to FIFA.

Ronaldo beat Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid, FRA) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ARG) to win his fourth FIFA Award, after 2008, 2013 and 2014, thanks to his contributions to Real Madrid's Undécima and Portugal's unlikely victory in the Euro 2016. Messi won La Liga, but missing the deciding penalty against Chile in the Copa Centenário final and Barcelona's defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid in the Champions League Quarter-finals might have weighted against him, while Griezmann was at the unlucky position of losing both finals to Ronaldo's teams, and now voted a long third.
Ronaldo makes this a hat-trick, as the award split from France Football's Ballon d'Or for the Best Footballer in Europe, also won by him a month ago [autoplays loud video], and also had won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award back in August. This makes the 9th year in a row FIFA's top award is split between Ronaldo and Messi, with the Argentinian leading by one.
On the managers' side, the competition seemed set between two managers: Claudio Ranieri, who took Leicester City to an unprecedented Premier League title, and Portugal's Fernando Santos, who despite only managing three draws in the group stage taking advantage of the "best thirds" the competition with 24 teams provided, managed to quietly advance to the final, where a goal in overtime settled the score. A Ballon d'Or winner as player, Zinedine Zidane added a Champions League title and the Club World Cup as a manager was still looking for a surprise, but while he took France Football's award earlier, Claudio Ranieri won the award.

The players also selected their world XI, dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Manuel Neuer (Bayern, GER); Dani Alves (Barcelona/Juventus, BRA), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, SPA), Gerard Pique (Barcelona, SPA), Marcelo (Real Madrid, BRA); Luka Modric (Real Madrid, CRO), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, GER), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, SPA); Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ARG), Luis Suarez (Barcelona, URU) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, POR).

On the Women's side, Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash, USA) won FIFA's award for the second consecutive time, beating Gold medal winner Melanie Behringer (Bayern, GER) and 5-time winner and now 12-time finalist Marta (FC Rosengard, BRA). While the US had crashed early in Rio in the middle of some controversy, Lloyd remains one of the best and most popular players in the game, and is using that as leverage to increase pay for the Women's game. The results from Rio were more important in the coaches award, and Silvia Neid retired after an incredible career with the German national football team that started in 1982 as a player, winning the gold medal in Rio and now the best women's coach accolade for the third time, beating former winners Jill Ellis (USA) and Pia Sundhage, who took Sweden to a surprising Silver Medal at the Olympics.

For the best goal, three goals were selected: Marlone with a spectacular volley, Daniuska Rodríguez with a thundering shot after dribbling past two defenders and Mohd Faiz Subri with an impossible-looking swerve from a freekick. The physics-defying kick might have surprised the goalkeeper, but winning the award was no surprise.
Also without surprise, Atlético Nacional from Colombia won the FIFA Fair Play Award, after requesting CONEMBOL to give the Copa Sudamericana title to Chapecoense, who lost most of their squad on a plane crash en route to the first leg of the final.
The Fan Award was given to Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool FC supporters, after their rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone, in a Europa League match days before the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. They outvoted Iceland's fans passionate support during their national teams' unlikely run in the Euro 2016 to the very end, and ADO Den Haag fans who showered Feyenoord fans from a children's hospital in the below tier with stuffed toys.

Outside voting, the Brazilian futsal magician Falcão won the Outstanding Career Award, capping a career that saw him retire as arguably the best futsal player ever.
posted by lmfsilva (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Optional soundtrack: Neil Cicierega, The Best
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2017

Zinedine Zidane not winning was a surprise, actually to me, because he seemed to be just about perfect this year. ... but England, Leicester, I get it. Still glad to see both Carli Lloyd (Houston, woohoo!) and Silvia Nied (... Lifetime Achievement Award).
posted by Seeba at 1:14 PM on January 9, 2017

Just like with the (US) baseball Hall of Fame, having these things decided by journalists with rather loose criteria means that the results are sort of strange. They also end up being heavily steered by the composition of a relatively small pool of regionally influenced journalists.

...but I'm also just a huge Lionel Messi fan, and can't understand how any cleared eyed soccer fan doesn't see him as the best player on the planet. Sure he didn't bring home as much hardware this year. But, as my dad says, "he's the straw that stirs the drink" on every team he plays on.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:23 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, the weight from the Euros seems suspect, as Messi played no part in it.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2017

having these things decided by journalists

The FIFA awards are also decided by managers and players (national team coach and captain). Media is just a third of the vote.
Not that it would make any difference. There's always been some "fuck me, this guy again" moments on the past years, usually when a player does a great summer tournament and a rock solid club season - Neuer in 2014, Sneijder in 2010, Xavi or Iniesta in 2008 or 2012,

If anything, this reinforces my idea that it's impossible to judge whatever Messi and Ronaldo do in historical terms because not only they're playing in post-Bosman era (where a team could be composed by the star players of 11 national teams), but also in an era of unchecked disparity - with no wage, squad size or transfer cap, nothing prevents the richest teams from hoarding any upcoming talent and sit them on the bench or loan them elsewhere until they leave a couple of years later.

So, yeah. Football is getting too predictable.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:01 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, yeah. Football is getting too predictable.
You're clearly not an Arsenal fan, then... anything could bloody happen....
posted by prismatic7 at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2017

Messi is clearly the greatest player in the game today. Even in years that Barca doesn't win everything. So I'm guessing this is kind of like when Karl Malone beat out Michael Jordan for the MVP: people just want to give something to someone else every once in a while.

Heck, in /r/Barca everyone votes for their MotM which you might think means "Man of the Match" but really means "Man other than Messi" because he is always the best, and most important, player on the pitch even when you think he isn't.

But in the end, whatever. Messi has won everything many times over and fans know the score. Christiano Ronaldo is a great player and deserves recognition.
posted by bfootdav at 4:21 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Watching those fan videos is good for the soul. I had seen the Liverpool/Dortmund one, but the Feyenoord one really warmed my cold heart as well.
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:20 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

You're clearly not an Arsenal fan, then... anything could bloody happen....

Fourth place and out in the CL last 16 again? Looking promising but with a mid-season collapse you say?
posted by jaduncan at 8:24 PM on January 9, 2017

Woah there, Ronaldo is not Karl Malone. Karl Malone won the Olympics and nothing else. Ronaldo has oodles of championship trophies. As far as I'm concerned, it seems pointless trying to decide which is the better player. It's not fun. Watching both work their magic is fun.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:42 PM on January 9, 2017

Messi is the better player generally, but Ronaldo had a phenomenal year and deserved it this time around. That both continue to score so many goals each season is extraordinary. They are significantly better than other players in the same era. We are fortunate to live in a time where these two players have competed in great teams against each other, and it is unlikely to happen again with two players dominating for so long.
posted by bigZLiLk at 11:49 PM on January 9, 2017

It's interesting to idly consider if they'd be as good were the other not around; I tend to think that Messi is more talented and probably would be, but Ronaldo might just be satisfied(!) with being the best in the world and very slightly less driven to his current heights.
posted by jaduncan at 2:05 AM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

And in other news (I could have waited and added it up to the FPP if I knew it would be on vote so close), FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams (from 32) in 2026.

I dislike the idea in the sense that "going to the world cup" won't be an achievement in itself, and while the three-team group stage have some advantages (if anything, group matches get more important), I'd much rather if they went all in, and put 64 teams on a direct knock-out. No more "start slow and build to the end", it's play to win from day 1 or pack it up. But I doubt FIFA is interested in raising the number of teams without increasing the number of games (current format has 64, my 64-team knockout would have the same number of matches with a 3rd place match, the approved format ramps it up to 80).
posted by lmfsilva at 9:16 AM on January 10, 2017

One of the reasons I prefer Ronaldo is that while he is ridiculously talented, he is not as talented as Messi, but he works so hard and is so focused that his talent + effort can very often have a bigger impact than Messi's talent + effort. And I'm not saying that Messi also isn't extremely hard working and focused, but not to the degree that Ronaldo is. If there was no Messi he likely wouldn't have had to work so hard and been so good for so long. Messi and Ronaldo have been 1-2 in the world for almost a decade. I'm sure the presence of the other has spurred both of them to be better players then they would have been otherwise and I'm thankful that I get to enjoy watching both.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2017

The physics behind Subri's swerve

i could've sworn this particular freekick made it into an FPP but i'm having hell of a time trying to look for it.
posted by cendawanita at 9:16 PM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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