FIFA spent the second Monday in 2015 handing out its awards for 2014’s best soccer things, honors voted on by the 114 percent objective club captains, national team managers, and journalists of the world. Those things included the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best male player, the World Player of the Year, awarded to the world’s best female player … and a bunch of other stuff. Ask them and they’ll tell you: This is all a very big deal.
Here’s a summary of the important yet unimportant, largely subjective awards. Please keep in mind that it’s hard to take any of them seriously since Peter Crouch, once again, received the shaft.
The Ballon d’Or was awarded today in Zurich in front of a room full of soccer royalty, and FIFA “President for Life” Sepp Blatter. Everyone was meticulously dressed, aside from Lionel Messi, who was apparently dressed by Steve Harvey in the dark.
Completely unsurprisingly, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo pipped Messi and German international Manuel Neuer for the award. It was Ronaldo’s second consecutive Ballon d’Or, adding to an incredibly successful year that saw the Portuguese captain win the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, and in life, as a Cristiano Ronaldo statue was erected in Cristiano Ronaldo’s hometown, in front of a Cristiano Ronaldo museum.
So, should you, the reader care? No. If you care, you probably are too invested in Ronaldo versus Messi and need a time out. Time outs are quietly a hugely effective conditioning tool. We don’t use them any more because we’re too proud to admit our preschool teachers were right about us.
If you just saw the names of the Puskas Award finalists — Stephanie Roche (Ireland), Robin van Persie (Netherlands), James Rodriguez (Colombia) — you might think that the award, given to the player who scored the best goal of 2014, would go to the higher profile players on the list: van Persie or James. And it did. But it shouldn’t have.
Without question, van Persie and James scored their goals on a bigger stage, both finding the back of the net during the 2014 World Cup. There’s something to say for the weight of the stage, but if you want to talk about pure difficulty level, there’s no question. Roche is it.
On form and technique, both Roche and James were nominated for spectacular volleys. But while the James volley went from chest to quarter-turn to left-footed volley, Roche’s set up for her left-footed volley was more difficult to execute. Her first touch with her right foot, second with the outside of her left, forcing her to spin 180 degrees before the volley.
But James still won.
Whatever. The Puskas Award criteria is as follows:
“The Award rewards the best goal scored between the dates of 3 October 2013 and 26 September 2014 (inclusively), without distinction of championship, gender or nationality.”
Unlike the other awards, the Puskas Award is voted on by the public online. Thus, there’s no science to this. Nevertheless, Roche was robbed and needs to call Olivia Pope immediately.
I’m 71 percent certain I believe this.
So, should you, the reader care? No. Choosing a best goal is like choosing a favorite Neville brother. There’s no right answer, thus caring about this is actually a complete waste of time. You don’t even know if I’m talking soccer Nevilles or large, singing Nevilles. See what I mean?
Women’s World Player of the Year
Abby Wambach (left), Marta (center), Nadine Kessler (right). Those were the nominees for the 2014 best female player on the planet award. While all three have unquestionable pedigree, one of these three women didn’t really have any business being on stage. Abby Wambach has deserved it in the past, but not now. Not for 2014.
Wambach actually said during her pre-taped interview that her teammates were “much more deserving than her.” And she’s right. Wambach didn’t even make our definitive #SG25 list for world’s most awesome. She isn’t even one of the best women’s players in the United States anymore. That award would go to Lauren Holiday, followed by a several others.
Kessler, Europe’s best player, and Marta a legend who continues to dominate, were deserving. VfL Wolfsburg’s Kessler walked away with the prize on the back of her team’s Bundesliga title and second straight UEFA Women’s Champions League title. You really can’t complain about this.
So, should you, the reader care? No. These were the best three women’s players in 2014? Love Abby, but nope. Demand a recount.
Men’s World Coach of the Year
This man rocks turtlenecks like it’s 1970 and he owns a pet turtle named Garfunkel. If that doesn’t say World Coach of the Year to you, I fear for your judgment.
Joachim Löw, architect of Germany’s first World Cup victory since 1990, is your 2014 FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year. Löw beat out two La Liga coaches, Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atlético Madrid’s vampire catcher, Diego Simeone (the first non-European to be a finalist for the award since its creation in 2010).
Löw didn’t thank Jurgen Klinsmann or Bruce Arena for not winning the award, which is a damn shame.
So, should you, the reader care? No. The general rule is never care about a man in a black turtleneck who doesn’t do spoken word. That counts double when this man beats out a man who took Atléti to the top of La Liga and to the Champions League final. I can’t accept this; neither should you.
Women’s World Coach of the Year
Ralf Kellermann (Wolfsburg), Maren Meinert (Germany U19 and U20 coach), and Japan’s 2011 World Cup winning coach Norio Sasaki were the finalists for the 2014 FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year. Kellermann’s Wolfsburg team has won consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League titles (2012-13, 2013-14). He also won the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg in 2014, where he coached 2014 World Women’s Player of the Year Nadine Kessler. It’s an impressive record for a man unable to spell “Ralph” correctly.
Should you, the reader, care? No. But you should be impressed that a German youth coach can be a finalist for the coach of the year. How does that happen? I’m torn between that should happen a lot more often and that should never happen at all.