FIFA’S Ballon d’Or Gala awards ceremony last week in Switzerland turned out to be a bit of a joke. But then again, what’s new with FIFA?
First of all, there was their incredibly stupid idea of asking Cristiano Ronaldo to present the award for the inaugural FIFA Men’s Player of the Year.
Didn’t it strike anyone over at FIFA that it could be just a teensy bit awkward, given that the three front-runners for the prize were Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, from Ronaldo’s current arch-rivals Barcelona? And we all know how Ronaldo loves a good hissy fit, right?
Well, I guess there are people who’d pay cash money to see the look on “CR7’s” face when he hands over the award, but still, that’s like asking Vladimir Putin to present the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama.
It would, however, have been the one time when FIFA actually gave football fans what they wanted, so I shouldn’t complain too much.
As it turned out, they scrapped the whole Ronaldo idea, and according to the British Daily Mail’s Pete Jenson, the other football superstar they had in mind for the hand-over was David Beckham.
Now I know FIFA loves to cash in on Beckham’s hair at every chance they get, but after they so royally screwed him and his England World Cup 2018 bid over, I’d think he’d be a tad reluctant to grace their little tawdry boys’ club with his presence, no? And that’s not to mention the fact that he has absolutely nothing to do with the award. Now that would be like Britney Spears giving Obama the Peace Prize.
But thankfully, common sense prevailed somehow in Zurich, and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was picked to hand the award to Messi. Wouldn’t it be great if FIFA just did that from now on, you know, go with the sensible option right from the start?
Because whenever they want to try something different, something clever, it just ends up looking stupid; like when they tried convincing everyone, including themselves, that a World Cup can be held in Qatar’s +40°C summers, only to now try and move the tournament to January when the weather is slightly more balmy, like 20-30°C, but smack in the middle of many a major domestic season around the world.
Or, like when Hamit Altintop won the FIFA Puskás Award for best goal of 2010 at the ceremony, and they asked Andrei Sidelnikov, the Kazakhstan goalkeeper he scored the goal against, to present it. Cue the awkward speech…
“I have to admit it was very nice goal,” he said in his best Borat impersonation. “I will do all possible for you not score me again.”
ROFL, anyone? He got plenty of laughs at the ceremony for that, y’know? Or maybe they were laughing at the fact that he said Altintop scored him.
The saving grace for that part of the ceremony was that the Puskás Award is decided by the most fair and objective method possible – online public voting. The only way it could be fairer was if FIFA got Simon Cowell in and did it X-Factor-style.
And then there was the FIFA World XI, the best team the world can produce, which was Iker Casillas, Gerrard Pique, Lucio, Maicon, Carles Puyol, Wesley Sneijder, Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and David Villa.
Six players from Barcelona in there, and you won’t hear any complaints from me about that. They are freakishly good, like Harlem Globetrotters-meets-Cirque du Soleil good.
But then – and I’m not sure if this is FIFA’s fault – the eleven of them had to go and take a group picture like they were doing a pre-match line-up photo!
So you’ve got the newly-crowned best player on the planet, Messi, crouching on stage in front of Ronaldo while wearing his best suit, and the bunch of them generally looking quite silly.
Like I said though, maybe it wasn’t FIFA’s fault, and the players just naturally got into that position when they were told it was time to take a picture; like how a goalscorer like Wayne Rooney would naturally score if you put him in a hotel room with a couple of … never mind.
I had another good laugh watching a video of jazz-pop artiste Jamie Cullum at the ceremony performing a piano version of Rihanna’s Please Don’t Stop The Music, and the camera turned to show Ronaldo listening to the unique rendition with a puzzled look on his face, which was probably him thinking in his head: “I like this song, but I thought Rihanna was a girl!”
There was a genuine moment of emotion though, which I thought was nice. Jose Mourinho is usually all guts and bravado, but when Sneijder took the opportunity while he was on stage to pay a heartfelt tribute to his former boss at Inter Milan, calling him the best coach in the world, Mourinho had to choke back the tears.
But that’s football for you. It’s big on excitement, and high on emotions; and no matter how much FIFA muck around with it, that will never change. At least I hope not. You can never underestimate FIFA.