Football News

The Best FIFA Awards 2022: Lionel Messi ties Cristiano Ronaldo thanks to “dream” World Cup victory

By Ben Green

Published: 21:45, 27 February 2023

Lionel Messi has been named as The Best FIFA Men’s Player for the second time for his role in helping Argentina win the World Cup.

The Argentine has dominated when it comes to the Ballon d’Or but since FIFA set up its own The Best awards in 2016, he has often had to watch on as others take the crown. Cristiano Ronaldo was the first recipient of the award in 2016 and he retained it a year later, with Messi second in both years.

Luka Modric completed the Ballon d’Or and The Best Men’s Player double in 2018 for his exploits as Croatia reached the World Cup final, but in 2019 Messi finally got his hands on the award.

After consecutive wins for Robert Lewandowski in 2020 and 2021, Messi went into this year’s awards show as the favourite. Although Karim Benzema had won the Ballon d’Or, The Best FIFA Awards took into account a period which spanned from the start of the 2021/22 season until the end of the World Cup.

It was in Qatar in December that Messi finally completed football, captaining Argentina to World Cup glory, lifting the trophy after a penalty shootout victory over France, ending a 36-year wait for a third triumph.

“Obviously I’d like to express thanks to my teammates to (Lionel) Scaloni,” he said when accepting his award.

“I’d just like to say that without them, of course, I wouldn’t be here. As I said, my coach he’s part of this victory as well and I’d like to pay tribute to all of my teammates and team as a whole, we did such a great job. It was an amazing year.

“I achieved a dream that I’ve been hoping for for so long and finally, I managed to achieve it. And it’s the most wonderful thing that’s happened to be in my career. I think it’s a dream for any player.

“Very few people have achieved that and I’ve been lucky to do so.”

Elsewhere, Alexia Putellas became the first to be named The Best FIFA Women’s Player twice, retaining her crown from last year.

But who were the rest of the winners, and how were they decided? Read on below to find out.

How the voting system works

Unlike its more esteemed cousin the Ballon d’Or, The Best FIFA Awards involve fans in the voting process, “incorporating the views of the four pillars of the footballing world” according to FIFA’s official website. 

Those “four pillars” are the fans (as mentioned), the coaches of all the national teams around the world, the captains of said nations, and submissions from a select group of more than 300 media representatives.

The voting percentage of each “pillar” varies between awards. In previous iterations, the Puskas Award (for example) was voted for solely by the public, but since 2018 it has been decided by a select group of pundits, who vote on the top three goals chosen by the fans.

For The Best FIFA Men’s Player, the voting was split identically four ways, with media representatives, national team coaches, national team captains and fans getting a 25% say. The latter joining the voting process in 2016.

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

Public voting typically takes place on with each individual entitled to make one vote for each category.

It’s also worth remembering that the awards for the men and women had different timeframes taken into consideration.

For the men’s awards, the period covered is from 8 August 2021 to 18 December 2022, to include the delayed World Cup in Qatar.

The women’s award covers 7 August 2021 to 31 July 2022, culminating with the end of the 2022 European Championships.

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The Best FIFA 2022 full list of winners

The Best FIFA Men’s Award

Lionel Messi is on top of the world once again, claiming his first The Best FIFA Men’s Player award since 2019. Although the 2021/22 season was one to forget for Messi at domestic level, the Argentine superstar has benefitted from the award carrying over to the World Cup. After a great start to the new campaign with PSG, Messi was integral and inspirational as Argentina won a third World Cup.

Messi finished ahead of 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and fellow World Cup finalist Kylian Mbappe, with 52 points overall. Mbappe came in second with 44 and Benzema 34.

When the voting list was initially revealed for national team captains and managers, many eyes went straight to Portugal to see how Cristiano Ronaldo had voted. However, surprisingly despite being Portugal’s captain the Al Ahly man was not doing their voting. Instead, Porto defender Pepe took the honour, handing his votes to Mbappe, Modric and Benzema.

Speaking of Ronaldo, not only was he not including in the FIFPro World XI for the first time since 2007 but he was also outside the top 10 of the FIFA Best awards (including all previous iterations) for the first time since 2005 when he finished 20th. In fact, it looks as though he didn’t get a single scoring point with Mohamed Salah the last listed on FIFA’s rundown with two.

The Best FIFA Women’s Award

Alexia Putellas remains the queen of women’s football, claiming a second The Best FIFA Women’s Player having scooped the award last year too. Although she missed out on the Euro 2022 through injury, Putellas’ contributions to Barcelona’s domination of Spain were more than enough to put her on another level to the rest of women’s football. Putellas beat England’s Beth Mead and USWNT legend Alex Morgan.

The Best FIFA Men’s Coaches Award

Lionel Scaloni ended a 36-year wait for Argentina to be crowned world champions for a third time, leading the South American nation to glory in Qatar. Scaloni first took charge of Argentina in 2018 after previously working as an assistant and achieved what many thought would not be achieved for a long time. He beat Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti.

The Best FIFA Women’s Coaches Award

Sarina Wiegman picked up a record third The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award, but a first as manager of the England Lionesses. After winning Euro 2017 with Netherlands for which she was honoured (and also picking up the award in 2020), Wiegman dominated Europe for a second time as England won their first major honour, beating Germany in the final of Euro 2022. England remain unbeaten under Wiegman, a run which now stands at 29 matches. Wiegman took the crown ahead of Sonia Bompastor and Pia Sundhage.

The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper Award

Emiliano Martinez was named as The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper for his performances as Argentina won the World Cup. The Aston Villa man was a big presence between the sticks for Lionel Scaloni’s men especially in the final, while also saving a number of penalties. Martinez finished ahead of Thibaut Courtois and Yassine Bounou.

The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper Award

Mary Earps became the first Englishwomen to win The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper Award for her role in helping the Lionesses win Euro 2022. The Manchester United shot-stopper kept four clean sheets in six matches and conceded just two goals en route to the final. She beat Chile and Lyon’s Christiane Endler and Ann-Katrin Berger of Germany and Chelsea.

FIFPro Men’s World XI

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid/Belgium)

Defenders: Achraf Hakimi (PSG/Morocco), Joao Cancelo (Man City/Bayern Munich/Portugal), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City/Belgium), Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia), Casemiro (Real Madrid/Man Utd/Brazil)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (PSG/Argentina), Kylian Mbappe (PSG/France), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund/Man City/Norway)

FIFPro Women’s World XI

Goalkeeper: Christiane Endler (Lyon/Chile)

Defenders: Lucy Bronze (Man City/Barcelona/England), Mapi Leon (Barcelona/Spain), Leah Williamson (Arsenal/England), Wendie Renard (Lyon/France)

Midfielders: Alexis Putellas (Barcelona/Spain), Keira Walsh (Man City/Barcelona/England), Lena Oberdorf (Wolfsburg/Germany)

Forwards: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/San Diego Wave/USA), Sam Kerr (Chelsea/Australia), Beth Mead (Arsenal/England)

Puskas Award

Amputee footballer Marcin Oleksy took the Puskas award.