The Best: the Fifa football awards that also sound like a ready meal | The Best Fifa Football Awards


The wonderful world of football hadn’t held a big pointless awards ceremony for 49 days. That’s seven long weeks since the stilted vacuity of the Ballon d’Or, and the best part of two months without any of us having to go along with the patently absurd premise that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the same players they were in 2011. The sweet gaslight-free relief couldn’t last, though, and last night Fifa staged their The Best awards, the most prestigious of all the football awards that also sound like a premium ready meal. Can you taste the difference?

No, not really. Alexia Putellas won the women’s prize, while Robert Lewandowski scooped the men’s version, just as they both did at the tail end of November in that other one. The latter proved to be something of an awkward outcome, as Ronaldo was also in attendance at the Zurich ceremony, but didn’t even make the shortlist. Something had to be done, so he was given a special gong, the Fifa Asda Extra Special Award For Surpassing Ali Daei’s Long-Standing 109-Goal Men’s International Record For Iran. Number one in a field of one. The Finest.

Ronaldo described his bulbous silver consolation prize as “bling bling”, an aesthetic judgment that can be viewed either through the prism of his rather fetching bebop turtleneck sweater, or the double-breasted jacket that Jacob Rees-Mogg might think twice about wearing at the dispatch box, but not both. He also took the opportunity to announce his hope to play for “four or five years”, though the 36-year-old stroller at least had the good grace not to append “at the top level” to the statement, which would have further raised questions/encouraged cheap jokes about his immediate Old Trafford future, while pushing the concept of chutzpah to its very limit.


East meets west in the Africa Cup of Nations: join Nick Ames for piping hot MBM action of Malawi 1-2 Senegal RIGHT NOW, before Paul Doyle brings your all the glitz and glamour of the Tariq Lamptey Derby: Brighton 1-1 Chelsea from 8pm.


“If I’ve learned anything in my career so far, it’s that leading with action rather than empty words is what counts in making a difference. It’s important to me to use my platform to be part of the solution. All too often in football the headlines are stolen by racist actions” – Adama Traoré, terroriser of full-backs, pledges 1% of his Wolves salary to Common Goal’s anti-racism project ARP.

Don’t mess. Photograph: Jack Thomas/Wolves/Getty Images


Get your listening gear around the latest Football Weekly podcast.


It’s ya boy, David Squires with his latest take on Rafael Benítez, National Rail employee, and Club Tropicana’s Steve Bruce.

Oh, Rafa!
Oh, Rafa! Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian


“I’d like to nominate Niko Kovac as a decent shout for Everton’s next long/short-term manager. I think after an initial tear up in the car park with Big Dunc – declared a 2-2 draw by Jimmy the parking attendant – a mutual respect would be forged . Then with his actual managerial experience with Bayern, and most recently with Monaco (where he managed to be influential in the development of some of their youngsters, and hard nosed towards those who were just in it for the ride) he would provide a perfect tonic to Everton’s manager knack” – Stephen Rea.

“With the let-off of not having to face Arsenal last Sunday, let’s hope Antonio Conte doesn’t start Matt Doherty again in Spurs’ next match. Nothing against poor Matt, it’s just that, as I said before, at 67 I can do what he does with a happier-looking face” – Marcio Aquino.

Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Marcio Aquino.


In a career spent almost entirely at Real Madrid, Paco Gento won 12 league titles and six European Cups. No footballer can match that; only two clubs have won more. Nicknamed La Galerna – the Gale – Gento has died at the age of 88. RIP.

Paco Gento (left) with his six European Cups (and Florentino Pérez).
Paco Gento (left) with his six European Cups (and Florentino Pérez). Photograph: Fernando Alvarado/EPA

Shrewsbury Town have banned two people from all games for a total of eight years after video clips emerged of some supporters singing a song about the Hillsborough disaster.

Antonio Conte is … wait for it … feeling disgruntled about the postponement of Sunday’s NLD. “This is the first time in my life that there is a league that has postponed the game for injuries,” parped Conte. “It is very strange and surprising for this.”

Why would anyone want to swap managing Kevin De Bruyne at a World Cup for a relegation battle with Fabian Delph? Perhaps Bobby Martínez has the answer.

Anthony Martial’s hopes of walking through an Old Trafford door marked Do One this month could rest on whether Manchester United are willing to pay a portion of the France striker’s £150,000-a-week wages.

Roma’s Robin Olsen – briefly Sheffield United’s Robin Olsen – will soon be Aston Villa’s Robin Olsen, until the end of the season at least.

In a blow to MBMers around the country, Burnley v Watford is OFF.


Click here for a big picture of Big Andy Carroll (and a piece by Ben Fisher on Reading).

Andy Hunter on the absolute state that is Everton.

Chelsea’s plan to start Mason Mount on the bench at Manchester City was actually a cunning ploy, according to Thomas Tuchel. Jacob Steinberg has more.

Rumours, get ya rumours!

Our men’s and women’s transfer window interactives have just got a whole lot shinier.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!



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