Lucas Podolski, the young striker who has just signed for Bayern Munich, was chosen as World Cup 2006’s best young player by FIFA this morning.
What has baffled me throughout the tournament is that FIFA’s Technical Study Group has apparently been watching a different set of games than the rest of us. Podolski has been good, no doubt, but he did not play as much a role in getting Germany to the semi final as Ronaldo did for Portugal. What has Podolski really done?
His first goal came courtesy of Klose, who gave up his own scoring shot to help his team-mate get on the scoresheet.
Podolski’s only good game came against Sweden, where he was the lucky recipient of two excellent passes that saw him score two goals.
His other major contribution? This one actually went unnoticed…
Podolski dove in the semi-final against Italy. Not once but several times. So did Phillip Lahm and Michael Ballack, although the media only seems to remember Totti.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, has had an excellent tournament. Before his first-half sub against Holland he was Portugal’s best player, and he has been their star player against France and England as well.
Without Ronaldo, France would not have had any threat to their goal. In fact, they could have scored 3 or 4 times and no one would have noticed.
Ronaldo has been shunned because of his much-publicised diving and his treatment by the crowds and the media after the Rooney incident. He is a diver, no doubts about that. But so his Podolski, and in an award where you select a player for fair play, impact and skill, Ronaldo wins 2 out of 3 from the whole list, and Podolski is NOT a clean player by any means.
I wrote yesterday that in giving these awards, FIFA had to avoid bias and partisanship.
They haven’t done it. They knew the Golden Ball was going to Zidane, and had Ronaldo and Podolski to choose from (Valencia is not high profile enough, plus Ecuador lost in the second round and Argentina in the quarters).
Podolski is definitely talented, but Ronaldo was the better player, in skill and impact.
Podolski just happened to be the politically correct choice.