Prestige or Performance? The Controversy Surrounding The Best FIFA Men's Player Award Won by Messi

A Critical Analysis of the Award
New York City FC v Inter Miami CF
New York City FC v Inter Miami CF / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Recently, Lionel Messi was crowned for the third time as the Best FIFA Men's Player, a prestigious title that always sparks heated debates among sports enthusiasts. However, when we carefully analyze Messi's performance in 2023, the unsettling question arises: did he truly deserve this recognition?

The FIFA award, known as The Best FIFA Men's Player, stands out for focusing on performance during the specific year, in this case, 2023. However, it is inevitable to compare this approach with the renowned Ballon d'Or from France Football, which considers performance throughout 2022. In this regard, Messi's Ballon d'Or win, after leading Argentina to victory in the World Cup in Qatar and delivering memorable performances, seems entirely justified.

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Entering the year 2023, Messi was acclaimed for his contribution to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), winning Ligue 1 and the Leagues Cup with Inter Miami. Ligue 1, at the end of each season, often becomes a predictable domain for PSG. Winning this competition with the Parisian club is not a surprise but an expectation. Additionally, the Leagues Cup won by Inter Miami is a tournament that doesn't carry as much weight on the global stage.

Leagues Cup 2023 - Final: Inter Miami CF v Nashville SC
Leagues Cup 2023 - Final: Inter Miami CF v Nashville SC / Pablo Morano/MB Media/GettyImages

On the other hand, the extraordinary performance of Erling Haaland deserves attention and reflection. The Norwegian forward not only led Manchester City to win the Premier League but also played a crucial role in securing the club's first-ever Champions League. A remarkable achievement that, at first glance, could be considered deserving of the FIFA Best Player title in 2023.

While congratulating Lionel Messi and his passionate fans for the achievement, we cannot ignore the sense that the award may have been influenced more by the prestige of the name than by effective performance in 2023. This raises an uncomfortable question: to what extent is the award truly aligned with the individual merits of players, or has it become a ceremony where renown supersedes excellence on the field?

The discrediting of the award is not a reflection of Messi's greatness as a player but rather a critique of the evaluation process and the apparent lack of equity. Amidst titles that could be considered routine for a player of his stature, did Messi truly stand out in an extraordinary way in 2023? The answer to this question remains subjective.

The Best FIFA Men's Player award of 2023 invites us to question the true measure of excellence in soccer. Does the grandeur of the name prevail over remarkable achievements on the field? Now, it is up to us to reflect on these questions and engage in a constructive dialogue about the meaning of this FIFA award.