FIFA has just run its 2023 annual awards. You can find out more about it at https://www.fifa.com/fifaplus/en/the-best-fifa-football-awards
The Best FIFA Football Awards™ have been awarded by the international sports body every year since 2016. We flagged it up several weeks ago as this year the public could vote online in several categories based on an official short list.
FIFA Ethics & Regulations Watch warmly congratulations the FIFA Awards winners.
But we must take this opportunity to flag up not just the best in the world of international football, but also the worst.
Just as the awards highlight the best of football both on and off the pitch, so too must we flag up some of the problems in the game that have been particular lows over the course of the last year.
To do that, FIFA Ethics & Regulations Watch is awarding its own awards, which we are calling the FERW Worst Football Awards.
Our inspiration in this is the Ig Nobel Prizes, run completely separately from the Nobel Prizes, and set up to get people to think. And in honour of the Oscars, the most famous awards on the planet, we are calling them ‘Noscars’, or ‘No-Scores’ for short. These awards are, self-evidently, officially nothing to do with either FIFA or the Academy Awards or ‘Oscars’. Though they both occasionally require some acting.
Some of the examples we cite are jovial, uplifting and fun. We salute the spirit involved.
But there are others which we highlight because many people will be unaware of them as scandals. Some can be found not just in one league or region, but mirrored elsewhere in the world – and need concerted action.
Whether that’s match-fixing to make money, or lying about a player’s age for personal gain, or abuse of position or trust, these issues need to be stamped out. So in many cases the real hero awards should go to those engaged in doing precisely that – standing up for colleagues and what’s right, running investigations, and getting miscreants thrown out of their positions and even into prison.
Here they are by category. You can see the concerns we are raising, and will continue to raise, as we go through them.
The ‘Noscar’ Winners by Category
Most Innovative Dance Routine
To ‘Disco’ Dan Burn, Newcastle, for services to future hip surgery.
Pat on the Head of the Year
To the Portuguese Football Association, for introducing the White Card that a referee can show to applaud good play – a reward for the soul but which has no bearing on the game. The first use was awarded off the pitch, for medical staff helping in the stands.
VfM for Fans Award
To West Ham United, which we applaud for selling the least expensive season ticket in the Premier League – about a seventh of the cost of the most expensive one.
Alternative Dimension Award
To Rangers, for pretending that the rogue scoring spree by Malik Tillman (who had missed his colleagues putting the ball out of play while he was down) never happened, by allowing Partick an unopposed jog up the pitch to score an easy equaliser.
Silent Heroes Award
To the Iranian football team for making a subtle and dignified protest by not singing the national anthem at the first match of the World up, despite immense personal risk.
Bound to Be Made into a Movie Award
To French footballer Paul Pogma, who was allegedly extorted by both his own brother and by childhood friends after they came to the conclusion he hadn’t shared enough of his wealth with them after he became a success. Apparently a witch doctor was involved.
Notable Absence Award
To the Commonwealth Games, which don’t feature football as a participating sport (though the French equivalent does). FERW has written to the organisers to invite review.
Sporting Crossover Award
To Jofra Archer, who in the course of taking a hat trick of wickets at MI Cape Town decided to play football with the cricket ball
Inappropriate Use of Prop Award
To Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, for the lewd deployment of the Golden Glove Award in childish and hugely inappropriate crotch-related antics at the World Cup
Women’s (In)equality Award
To those parties in US women’s soccer who feature in the alarming 2022 report showing serious sexual misconduct and abuse. Alarmingly there are a number of other award contenders.
Inappropriate Arthritis Award
To those players who inadvertently supported the controversial BLM political movement by taking the knee on the pitch rather than making a statement off it. Then complained that some people gave their own opinion in response through booing. Special mention goes to the England squad who took the knee at Qatar when even their US opponents didn’t. FERW wrote to FIFA with a solution people could get around.
Magic 8 Ball Bet Forecasting Award
Jointly awarded to;
The no fewer than 15 players and coaches suspended by the Kenyan football authorities pending an investigation into match fixing
The no fewer than 15 players and coaches arrested in a League of Ireland match-fixing probe
Several other prominent match-fixing investigations that are also ongoing around the world, demonstrating this is a high-stakes issue that needs to be seriously tackled
Lawyer of the Year Award
To the legal team of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini who were both cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court in July.
Flying Carpet Award
To Joao Felix for managing to get a red card on his Chelsea debut while displaying some significant anti-gravitational prowess. If only it had been better aimed at the ball.
FlashMob of the Year
The entire Dutch substitute pitch in their world cup semi against Argentina, after an aggressive tackle by Leandro Paredes was followed by him booting the ball at them. The game ended with a FIFA record haul of SEVENTEEN yellow cards.
Underdressed Fan Award
To Argentina. Rather than award it to the woman at the World Cup who unwisely went topless to wave her shirt around (which unfortunately got caught on camera despite a big banner nearby), for propriety’s sake it goes to the shirtless beardy who had felt-tipped a message onto his beer belly before running onto the pitch and getting rugby tackled.
Reverse Ferret Award
To those European clubs that made great play of wearing an armband to the World Cup, until it was – completely predictably – banned with penalties by FIFA at which point they decided not to. But which also then triggered other more overtly political armbands appearing in the stadium.
Alf Garnett Award
To former Crawley Manager John Yems for a range of remarks controversially classed by the FA as merely “unconscious” racism
Newcomer of the Year
To the Marshall Islands, the last country on the planet to set up a national team and football federation.
Unfederation Achievement Award
Jointly awarded to the football associations of Sri Lanka, India, Zimbabwe and Kenya, which have all over the past 12 months been suspended by FIFA. Pakistan meanwhile saw its ban finally lifted.
Gatecrasher of the Year
To Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gokce for somehow getting onto the pitch after the World Cup final and holding the trophy while those around looked on baffled
Belated Happy Birthday Award
To Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who turns out reportedly to be 22 and not a youth player after all.
Force for Change Question Mark Award
To FIFA, or rather the current FIFA board rather than their predecessors. For going back to Qatar and getting changes to the law to improve worker conditions. The jury is still out as to whether these are enduring, but if they are then they do show that sport hosting can bring change – if properly managed.
Playing the System, Not the Game Award
To Juventus, for an inventive interpretation of the transfer/points system which has seen a number of its directors barred and 15 points docked
Lifetime Achievement Award
It’s now several years on, but the farcical medical assistance in this match remains an unbeatable classic from Greek team Larissa