Frank Lampard has questioned FIFA’s decision to award Marcelo Bielsa and the Leeds United squad their FIFA Fair Play Award.
The Yorkshire club were presented with the prize for Bielsa ordering his players to allow Aston Villa to score an unopposed equaliser in a Championship game earlier this year.
Why Leeds’ win was controversial. Five key things to know…
- Marcelo Bielsa was reprimanded after sending a staff member to observe Derby County outside their training ground before a January 2019 meeting.
- He was subsequently handed a £200,000 fine by the English Football League.
- A few months later, Bielsa ordered his team to let Aston Villa score an equaliser at Elland Road.
- This act of sportsmanship earned him and his team FIFA’ Fair Play Award.
- However, then-Derby boss Frank Lampard, now managing Chelsea, feels it was a wrong decision based on ‘spygate’.
That moment was a sharp contrast to the other high-profile incident involving the Argentine manager in his first season in English football.
Bielsa, who took charge at Elland Road in the summer of 2018, found himself in hot water after sending a member of his staff to observe Derby County outside their training ground before a meeting in January 2019.
He was subsequently handed a £200,000 fine by the English Football League, but the whole episode frustrated then-Rams boss Lampard, who has since taken charge at Chelsea.
After being rewarded for their sportsmanship against Villa, the Blues head coach questioned their choice, feeling “Spygate” – as it became dubbed – should have factored in the process.
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“I think everyone had the same reaction because a lot of news was put to Spygate and I think quite rightly so. It got dealt with in the right way so when you go and give an award for fair play in the same year, then I don’t think it’s right, to be straight,” he said.
“I did smile. I don’t know who votes for it. Who votes for it? Listen, everyone knows what happened with Spygate is well documented. The rules changed slightly because of it and they were fined. I felt it was improper. I don’t have to say that anymore.
“To get a fair play award off the back of that, I thought it was irony at first. It seemed strange to me. The moment to me it was a dead rubber versus Villa. The ball slowed down to the point of the ball going out it was quite right they allowed Villa to score.
“Quite right to level out the balance of what had happened. That was that. It was a strange decision for them to win that.”