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The Best FIFA Men’s Player, Puskas award and other FIFA football awards

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The Best FIFA football award; Photo Credit - SPORTbible

While all our eyes are fixed on who will emerge the winner in the next month’s Ballon d’Or – most coveted individual prize it is time to take a look at the other individual award available to the greatest players in the game.

The award was initially called FIFA World Player of the Year from its inception in 1991 to 2009 but has recently been rebranded as The Best FIFA Men’s Player, with the first winner of the newly-named competition coming in 2016.

Lothar Matthaus was the first-ever winner back in 1991 and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is the current holder having won in 2020.

FIFA continued with their award last year as Lewandowski triumphed, while the Ballon d’Or was controversially canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is what you need to know about the 2021 Best FIFA Men’s Player award;

The Best FIFA Football Awards

In the wake of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, FIFA decided to launch its own ceremony to celebrate the best player in the world every year.

It slowly gained traction, incorporating a women’s award in 2001 as well as several other trophies that became up for grabs.

Now, there are nine awards to be won, as well as a FIFPro 11. Those nine awards are; The Best FIFA Men’s Player, The Best FIFA Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach, FIFA Fair Play Award, FIFA Puskas Award, FIFA Fan Award, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper and the Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper.

How it is decided and who votes?

Unlike the aforementioned Ballon d’Or, The Best FIFA Football Awards involve fans in the voting process, giving the people a voice.

The voting for the FIFA Puskas Award, for example, sees fans vote online for one of the 11 finalists drawn up by a panel of experts, with a final trio then decided.

Fans will then be responsible for 50 percent of the votes cast, with a panel of football experts providing the other 50 percent to decide the eventual winner.

The FIFA Fan Award is entirely decided by fans, with no input from journalists, coaches, or players when it comes to determining the winner.

Three moments are chosen and fans vote online to ultimately decide the winner.

Fans also have the chance to cast their votes for The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Coach, and The Best Men’s and Women’s Goalkeeper awards.

Fans can vote for their top three favorites per category, with the first choice generating five points, the second choice three points, and the third choice one point.

Fans make up 25% of the vote, with the other 75% coming from national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, and a select group of media from those countries.


The 2021 Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony will take place in December, although an exact date and location are currently unknown.

The Best FIFA Men’s Player

The Best FIFA Men’s Player is the award handed out to the best player every calendar year.

As mentioned earlier, it’s decided by a combination of national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, a select group of media from those countries, and fans.

Why Robert Lewandowski deserved this year's Best FIFA Men's Player award | Bundesliga

Robert Lewandowski; Photo Credit – Bundesliga

The current favorites for the 2021 award are Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi.

Previous Winners

Year Player Country
2007 Kaka Brazil
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2009 Lionel Messi Argentina
2010 Lionel Messi Argentina
2011 Lionel Messi Argentina
2012 Lionel Messi Argentina
2013 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2014 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2015 Lionel Messi Argentina
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2018 Luka Modric Croatia
2019 Lionel Messi Argentina
2020 Robert Lewandowski Poland
2021 ? ?

The Best FIFA men’s goalkeeper award

Similar to The Best FIFA Men’s Player, but solely for goalkeepers, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award celebrates the best player in between the sticks each calendar year, to give more recognition to a position that seldom wins individual awards.

The first award was handed out in 2017.

Previous Winners

Year Player Country
2017 Gianluigi Buffon Italy
2018 Thibaut Courtois Belgium
2019 Alisson Becker Brazil
2020 Manuel Neuer Germany

The Best FIFA men’s coach award

This award celebrates the work of the best coaches in world football, and it ultimately decides which manager is considered to have been the best over the past 12 months.

Previous Winners

Year Coach Country
2016 Claudio Ranieri Italy
2017 Zinedine Zidane France
2018 Didier Deschamps France
2019 Jurgen Klopp Germany
2020 Jurgen Klopp Germany

The Best FIFA women’s player award

Just as with The FIFA Best Men’s Player, there is an award for the best female player each calendar year as well. It started in 2001, 10 years after the men’s award was introduced, and brings more recognition and attention to women’s football.

Previous Winners

Year Player Country
2016 Carli Lloyd United States
2017 Lieke Martens Netherlands
2018 Marta Brazil
2019 Megan Rapinoe United States
2020 Lucy Bronze England

There are also female awards for The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach and a FIFA FIFPro Women’s World XI.

FIFA FIFPro Mens world 11

Since 2005, the world players’ union FIFPRO has asked professional footballers worldwide to select the best players in the game each calendar year, with over 25,00 players participating in the vote.

The goalkeeper, as well as the three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards who received the most votes are selected for the World 11.

269 Fifa Fifpro World Xi Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

Over 25,00 players participate in the vote; Photo Credit – Getty Images

The remaining spot in the World 11 is assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes who is not selected already.

The award celebrates the best 11 players in the world each year, and gives players who don’t have a realistic shot at winning the overall award, primarily defenders, recognition for their work on the pitch.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have the most appearances in the World 11, with 14 each. Sergio Ramos is next in terms of appearances, with 11.

2020 FIFPro XIs

2020: Alisson (Liverpool); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Puskas Award

Created in 2009 in honour of the late Ferenc Puskas, captain and star of the Hungary national team during the 1950s, the FIFA Puskas Award is handed out to the player judged to have scored the best goal of the year.

The criteria are: an aesthetically beautiful goal, awarded without distinction of championship, gender or nationality.

Fair Play Award

The FIFA Fair Play award recognizes exemplary behavior that promotes fair play, sportsmanship and compassion in football.

It can be awarded to a player, a coach, a team, fans or even entire footballing communities. The winner in 2020 was Mattia Agnese, who administered critical first aid to an opponent who lost consciousness following an on-field collision.

The Fan Award

The FIFA Fan award was created in 2016 and celebrates the best fan moment or event across the calendar year. 2020’s winner was Marivaldo Francisco da Silva.

Year Player Country
2016 Mohd Faiz bin Subri Malaysia
2017 Olivier Giroud France
2018 Mohamed Salah Egypt
2019 Daniel Zsori Hungary
2020 Heung-Min Son Korea Republic

Difference between FIFA Football awards and Ballon d’Or

The Ballon d’Or is a ceremony founded and run by France Football, whereas The Best FIFA Football Awards were founded and run by FIFA.

They are two separate awards, although between 2010 and 2015, they merged together to form the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

They separated for 2016 and have remained two different awards since then. Before the merge, The Best FIFA Football Awards was known as FIFA World Player of the Year.

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