The 2022 Best FIFA Awards took place at the end of February 2023 but you might be wondering what on earth they are. Here we’ll take a look at this annual event, explaining when it started, and what awards there are. We’ll also give some information about the past winners in the various categories.
What are they?
These awards could be viewed as the footballing Oscars. At the start of each year, they take a look back at the outstanding performers of the previous 12 months. According to FIFA themselves, they “annually honour the most outstanding members of the world’s most popular sport”. On a night that celebrates the game, including both the men’s and women’s, various awards are handed out as the great and the good of the world of football come together.
First ever Best FIFA Football Awards
The inaugural edition of these awards was held in Switzerland in January 2017, celebrating the best football of the previous 12 months or so. More specifically, on 9th January 2017, awards were given based on performances between 20th November 2015 and 22nd November 2016; the ceremony took place in Zurich.
Different criteria are used for the various awards and over the years there have been small tweaks to the process, including how the winners are decided. In that first year, there were four groups of voters, the public, representatives of the media, plus the coaches and captains of the various national teams. In that first year, Cristiano Ronaldo scooped the major award as the Best FIFA Men’s Player, landing almost 35% of the vote.
He had a fine year, landing the Euros with Portugal and the Champions League with Real, and edged out his great rival Lionel Messi. The Argentine received over 26% of the vote to finish second ahead of Antoine Griezmann (just 7.5%). Claudio Ranieri was named Best FIFA Men’s Coach for guiding Leicester to a still-hard-to-believe Premier League title, whilst lesser-known Mohd Faiz Subri won one of the event’s most popular awards.
The FIFA Puskas Award is given to the scorer of the finest, most spectacular goal of the award period. His amazing curling effort was the clear winner with over 59% of the vote.
Different Awards and 2022 Winners
Based on the most recent ceremony, which took place on 27th February 2023, there were nine awards, in addition to the honour a player could earn of being named in the men’s or women’s team of the year. The various awards and winners are detailed below but before that let’s look at the team of the year awards, officially the FIFA FIFPRO Men’s and Women’s World 11s.
The women’s team was dominated by members of the England Lionesses, though some English fans may be surprised to see “just” four players make it. They were Lucy Bronze, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Keira Walsh. Chelsea’s Aussie forward Sam Kerr also made the cut, as did the brilliant Spaniard Alexia Putellas. Man United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps was a surprise omission given she won the individual keeper’s award.
The men’s 11 lined up in a rather attacking 3-3-4 formation, with Real Madrid the most-represented side:
- Thibaut Courtois
- Joao Cancelo
- Virgil van Dijk
- Achraf Hakimi
- Kevin De Bruyne
- Luka Modric
- Karim Benzema
- Erling Haaland
- Kylian Mbappe
- Lionel Messi
Best FIFA Player (Men’s and Women’s)
Perhaps the two most prestigious awards, the recipients were rather predictable, especially the men’s. Lionel Messi was an absolute shoo-in after helping Argentina win the World Cup (the dates for this award were 8th August 2021 to 18th December 2022). He delivered some dazzling displays to finally win the one piece of silverware that had eluded him and further cement his place as the greatest modern-day player, if not the best of all time.
Spain and Barcelona midfield maestro Alexia Putellas won the women’s award, claiming it for the second time. It was Messi’s second award as well, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski also double winners and Luka Modric winning in 2018. Messi has been runner-up on three occasions too.
Best FIFA Goalkeeper Men’s and Women’s
Emi Martinez followed in the glove-steps (if that was a thing, which it isn’t), of greats such as Gianluigi Buffon, Thibaut Courtois and Manuel Neuer in being named the Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper. Courtois was second, with Brazilian Premier League duo of Alisson and Ederson fourth and fifth respectively. As said, Mary Earps won the women’s award, beating Lyon and Chile stopper Christiane Endler into second, though Endler was named in the women’s team of the year.
Best FIFA Coach Men’s and Women’s
Unsurprisingly Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman was crowned the Best FIFA Women’s coach thanks to her incredible run of results with England. The Lionesses captured the hearts of the nation as they swept to victory in the Euros and Wiegman was the calm, thoughtful and brilliantly astute mastermind behind it all.
Equally as predictable was Lionel Scaloni winning the men’s version. If you win the World Cup you would be very unlucky not to, and the Argentine saw off Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola. Past winners of this award include Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps but perhaps surprisingly Jurgen Klopp is the only man to have won it twice (2019 and 2020).
FIFA Puskas Award
Named in honour of Hungarian great Ference Puskas, this was awarded first in 2009, later becoming part of this ceremony. Because of the one-off nature of a great goal it has been won by legends of the game less commonly than other awards but Ronaldo won in 2009, Neymar in 2011 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2013.
For the past few years, this has been an open award, open to men and women and in 2022 was won by Polish amputee footballer Marcin Oleksy. The truly stunning strike was rather reminiscent of Wayne Rooney’s famous Manchester-derby strike and a very worthy winner.
FIFA Fan Award
This celebrates the fans and rewards an individual or group for a moment, gesture or general support. Argentina’s incredible following in Qatar won them the 2022 prize, with the number of fans who came over from South America and the atmosphere they generated helping Messi and co to glory.
FIFA Fair Play Award
This one dates back to 1987 and is special in that it can be granted to an individual, a team, a group of supporters or spectators or even whole communities. The fans of Dundee United were the first-ever winners thanks to their sporting behaviour towards the fans of Gothenburg, who beat them in the UEFA Cup final. In 1990 Gary Lineker was recognised for going through his whole 16-year career without ever being booked, whilst Paulo Di Canio won in 2001 for catching the ball from a corner when he noticed the goalkeeper was down.
The 2022 award was a far more serious issue, with Georgian footballer Luka Lochoshvili winning for his quick response and actions when fellow pro Georg Teligli collapsed. It is believed he saved the life of his opponent by clearing his airways. Fair play to that!