Sport

Gareth Southgate’s votes for FIFA Player of the Year are extremely telling

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Dave Fawbert
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Some of the voting at the FIFA Football Awards was seriously weird

So football’s stars came to London last night for a big old knees-up at the Palladium, and to claim their honours at the 2017 Best FIFA Football Awards.

It’s only the second outing for this particular set of awards, after FIFA broke away from the Ballon d’Or - the famous trophy awarded by France Football magazine since 1956.

In news that surprised no one, given yet another stellar year of performances, Cristiano Ronaldo was named as the world’s best male player. Equally unsurprisingly, Lionel Messi came second, with his former teammate Neymar coming in third.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane was named best men’s coach, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud received the Puskas award for the best goal of 2017 - for his ‘scorpion kick’ against Crystal Palace back in January, and Gianluigi Buffon won best goalkeeper.

The World XI, meanwhile, boasted a line-up of: Buffon, Marcelo, Ramos, Bonucci, Alves, Iniesta, Kroos, Modric, Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar.

Lieke Martens of Barcelona and the Netherlands won best female player, with her national manager Sarina Wiegman named best female coach.

So far, so predictable, but it gets interesting when you have a dig into exactly who voted for who. This year, each country contributed four ‘types’ of votes: the national team captain and coach, a media representative, and an online poll of fans each got to name their top three (with first choice getting 5 points, second choice, 3 and third choice 1).

Jordan Henderson plumped for Ronaldo, Messi and Suarez, while England’s media representative, The Telegraph’s Ben Rumsby, went for Ronaldo, Messi and Modric.

However, Gareth Southgate somehow managed to miss out obviously-at-the-very-least-the-second-best-player-in-the-world Messi, opting for Ronaldo, Modric and Kroos.

Scotland’s former manager Gordon Strachan’s choices were equally perplexing, choosing to ignore Ronaldo completely:

While it was the same story with Wales’ Chris Coleman - who ignored Messi, picking Ramos, Modric and Kane - and Northern Ireland’s Michael O’Neill, who dismissed Messi and went for Ronaldo, Hazard and Kante. There’s clearly something strange in the water in the UK.

These weren’t the weirdest selections though, with some top class nepotism on display from Costa Rica, whose manager and captain both picked their countryman Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, as the world’s best player. Similarly, Belgium’s coach Roberto Martinez opted to curry favour with his players and picked Eden Hazard as first choice.

Barbados coach Mohamed Ahmed and captain Mario Harte, and Indian coach Stephen Philip Constantine went for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon, while there were top votes for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Gianluigi Buffon and N’Golo Kante.

And a big cheers to Vanuatu’s media representative Raymond Nase, who voted for Harry Kane as the best player in the world.

As is traditional, neither Messi nor Ronaldo voted for each other, instead playing it safe with teammates. Messi picked Suarez, Iniesta and Neymar, and Ronaldo voted for Modric, Ramos and Marcelo.

“We are in England for the first time, and I win it for the second consecutive time. This is a great moment for me,” Ronaldo told the audience. It’s a good job he’s more exciting with his feet than with his mouth.

(Image: Rex)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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