5 reasons why Messi winning FIFA’s Best Player is the BIGGEST ROBBERY of all time

Lionel Messi won a record 8th FIFA Best Player of the Year Award

5 reasons why Messi winning FIFA’s Best Player is the BIGGEST ROBBERY of all time

Tunde Young 06:15 - 16.01.2024

Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Best Player of the Year award for the record eighth time and here are five reasons it is undeserved.

Lionel Messi has been named the best player in the world for 2023 by FIFA, a decision which has been met with confusion and outrage from football fans,

The Argentine legend edged out Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to win the award for a record eighth time and complete the double after also securing the Ballon d'Or recently.

However, the results of the entire FIFA The Best awards ceremony held in London has been met with intense scrutiny and objection, especially Messi'saward and right so.

Many believe the Inter Miami forward is not deserving of his most recent achievement and it has been described as the biggest robbery in football history; here are five reasons to back that claim.

5 reasons Lionel Messi should not have won the FIFA Player of the Year award

1. Messi did not have a great 2023

Of course, no one can doubt Lionel Messi's greatness and all that he has done in his exemplary career but this is not a lifetime achievement award, it honours the best player for a whole year which wasn't the Argentine by all accounts.

The 36-year-old came into 2023 essentially retired from top-level football having won the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022 and got last year's version of this award for that incredible achievement.

Messi was the MVP as Argentina won the 2022 World Cup
Messi was the MVP as Argentina won the 2022 World Cup | Imago

In 2023, the actual year in review for this award, Messi finished the 2022/23 season with Paris Saint Germain and won the French Ligue 1 title after which he joined Inter Miami in June.

He would also lead Inter Miami to the League Cup title, the club's first-ever trophy which constitutes a decent year but not great by Messi's high standards and certainly not good enough to be named the best in the world.

2. Erling Haaland was much more deserving

It is rather perplexing that Erling Haaland has once again been overlooked for a major award despite his incredible team and individual feats of 2023.

Erling Haaland lifting the 2023 Champions League trophy || Credit: Man City

The Norwegian was passed over for Messi to win the Ballon d'Or with the World Cup touted as the major determinant which in itself felt wrong but was still somewhat understandable.

But with Messi having already won this award last year for the World Cup, there is no real reason for Haaland to not have won this year which is why this has been described as a robbery with the Manchester City striker as the victim.

The 23-year-old scored 52 goals in 53 games to drag Manchester City to a treble in a record-breaking debut season for the club but now has no major award to show for one of the best individual seasons in the history of football.

3. Messi and Haaland were tied on points

FIFA The Best Player of the Year award is determined by national team players and captains, journalists and fans on FIFA’s website, each counting for 25%.

The collation of those votes results in a points system which produces the winner and interestingly enough, both Messi and Haaland were tied on 48 points so how did the Argentine emerge number one?

Haaland lost out on the Ballon d'Or to Lionel Messi | Image credit: @FabrizioRomano/X

Messi had more first-place nominations from national team captains than Haaland which served as the tie-breaker and he was honoured with the prestigious prize at the ceremony in London.

This is by far the narrowest margin by which the award has ever been won which goes hand in hand with the controversy surrounding it to begin with.

4. The votes were based on emotions, not facts

The voting trends also suggest that Messi won this award based on all he has done in his career, especially in the last two years rather than for his exploits in 2023.

Lionel Messi || Imago

Most of the journalists and fans voted for Erling Haaland which is how he gathered his 48 points and particularly telling as they tend to watch the game more than players and coaches.

The players and coaches who voted for Messi most likely did so out of reverence for the guy and based on who he is which is not exactly a bad thing but quite unfortunate for the more deserving Haaland.

The fact that Messi himself voted Haaland as his number one choice and did not show up for the event in London means he knows the Norwegian was more deserving of it this time around.

5. Messi becomes the first winner not based in Europe

Messi made history by becoming the first and only player to win this award eight times but he also broke another record which is not exactly a good look.

Lionel Messi for Inter Miami || Image credit: Messi (IG)

The Argentine now plays for Inter Miami, making him the first player not based in Europe to win the award since its inception in 1991, a stat that should naturally have disqualified him because of the low quality of American football.

All evidence points to the fact that Messi's most recent award is more of a nod to his career than his exploits of 2023 and a massive disservice to Erling Haaland who dominated the year in review. This sets a dangerous precedent and FIFA should do much better.