We live in a world obsessed with superlatives, constantly being sold by marketing ploys promoting their individual items. Football is sadly no different, how often are we told that Cristiano Ronaldo is the World’s best player, only to be told the same thing about Lionel Messi the very next day. Club’s are no different, Real Madrid and Manchester United are constantly battle it out for the title of World’s biggest club (apologies to Barcelona and Liverpool fans)!
In times such as these, often the only source of clarity comes from Football awards and rankings. There is a large collection of footballing awards and rankings systems out there. Some awards are presented by the official governing bodies, whilst other awards come from Journalists and Independent bodies such as the IFFHS.
The obvious contender for the most important ranking system in world Football is the official FIFA world rankings. Officially introduced in 1992 the rankings has been subjected to some degree of critisim over the years. This critisim has resulted in three different ranking systems of varying levels of complexity. The current system has been in effect since the conclusion of the 2006 World Cup.
Due to the critisim of the official FIFA world rankings system, alternative rankings systems have surfaced over the years. The most prominent of these awards is the World Football ELO rankings. As the name suggests the system is based of the ELO ranking system designed by Hungarian mathematician Dr. Árpád Élő to rank chess players. The system was adopted for Football by Bob Runyan in 1997.
UEFA’s coefficient ranking and seeding system is arguably the world’s most influential ranking system. It’s divided up into three categories – Nations, Leagues and Clubs and has a major role to play when deteriming the fixtures, groups and qualifiication rules of prestigious tournaments such as the UEFA Champions League and the European Championships. The coefficient to some extent also provides a guide on who the most influential leagues are in Europe.
As a professional footballer the three major awards you aim for are the Ballon d’Or, FIFPro player of the year and finally theFIFA world footballer of the year.
The Ballon d’Or was first awarded in 1956 by the France Football Magazine. The award was the brain child of Gabriel Hanot – his vision was to have an award for the best European footballer of the season as voted on by a select panel of European journalists. The Ballon d’Or was quickly estabalished as one of the most prestigious awards a European footballer could win.
Today the Ballon d’Or is a international award having opened it’s doors to players across the world in 2007.
The FIFPro player of the year award is a newcomer on the international awards front having first been awarded in 2005. The awarded is voted on by players from the various player associations across the world. As such the award shot to prominance quickly, to be voted as the best player in the world by your fellow professionals is seen as one of the highest forms of recognition a player can achieve.
First awarded in 1991 the official FIFA “Player of the Year” award was always destined to become arguagably the pinnacle achievement for an indiviual in Football. Since it’s inception the award has been seen to be provide the definitive answer to the question who is the best player in the world. As such it’s influence on the game has been remarkable. You only have to look at Real Madrid’s recent transfer activity, centered around recruiting FIFA “player of the year” winners to see how much influence the award has.
Below you’ll find a collection of the most prominent awards an individual can win in Football. These are the trophies that players covet. Win one and you’ll find yourself amongst some of the greatest names in the sport.
PFA Player of the Year award
The Professional Footballer’s Association award is consider by many to be the most prestigious award a player can receive due to the fact that it is voted on by fellow Footballers. Each member of the association votes for two players. The award was first given in 1974.
FWA Player of the Year
Along with the PFA award, the Football Writer’s Association award is considered as the premier individual award in England. It is awarded to the best player in the English Premier League and is voted on by approximately 400 English journalists. Sir Stanley Matthews was the award’s first recipient after the 1947/48 award.
PFA Fan’s Player of the Year award
The fan’s version of the PFA award first debuted in 2001. A shortlist of contenders is put together by the PFA and fans are then allowed to vote on this shortlist. There are separate awards given to the top player for each of the four professional football leagues in England.
Annual award given out by the French magazine Onze Mondial. The award is for the European player of the year and is judged by the readers of Onze Mondial. The award was first handed out in 1976.
World Soccer Magazine Player of the Year
Yet another magazine award. Originally started in 1982, WSM readers from across the globe cast their votes on who they believe has been the player of the year. Obviously the player with the highest percentage of votes wins. The current holder is Cristiano Ronaldo who amassed 48% of the votes. Votes came from over 40 different countries from around the world.
IFFHS World’s most popular player
This award is a little different from the other awards on this list. Instead of rewarding the best player, it recognises the most popular player. Voters from around the world chose from a list of nominations put together by the IFFHS. In 2007 close to three million people voted on the award. The current holder is Egyptian Mohamed Aboutrika.
FIFA Golden Ball/ Golden Shoe
The Golden ball is presented to the best player of a World Cup, whilst the Golden shoe is presented to the highest goalscorer in the tournament. The awards have been presented since the first World Cup in 1930. The Golden Ball is voted on by the world’s media, who select their vote from a shortlist put together by the FIFA technical committee. The current holder (from the 2006 World Cup) of the Golden Ball is Zinidine Zidane, whilst the Golden Shoe was awarded to Miroslav Klose.