In the fall of 2020, many soccer fans looked at Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (34) with pity. The Ballon d’Or, which is awarded to the world’s best player by exploding a whopping 55 goals in all competitions in the 2019-2020 season, and leading his team to three victories including the UEFA Champions League (UCL), German Bundesliga and German Football Association Cup, was most likely at the time. This is because the Ballon d’Or award itself was canceled due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) that struck. In addition, Lewandowski missed out on another prize at the Ballon d’Or award ceremony held in November of last year, a year later. He scored 43 goals in the Bundesliga and broke the record of legendary goalkeeper Gerd Müller for the first time in 49 years, but this time he was defeated by Lionel Messi (35, Paris Saint-Germain), who led Argentina to victory in the Copa America in 2021. Messi’s award was controversial after two years of tragic failure to win the award.
However, the ‘FIFA Player of the Year’, which is considered the two biggest player awards along with the Ballon d’Or in the football world, was different. Lewandowski defeated Lionel Messi and Mohammad Salah (30, Egypt, Liverpool) who competed as finalists at the FIFA awards ceremony held in a non-face-to-face manner in Zurich, Switzerland, where the FIFA headquarters is located on the 18th, and was honored with the award in the male player category. In the selection of winners reflecting the results of the FIFA member national team’s coach and captain, media, and fan voting, the coach, captain, and media vote all took first place. In the fan vote, he stayed in third place, which was the lowest point, but in the final score converted into points, he scored 48 points, ahead of Messi with 44 points and Salah with 39 points.
From 2010 to 2015, the FIFA Ballon d’Or award was unified as the FIFA Player of the Year award, and then separated again in 2016. This is the first time the two awards have not been awarded since separation. Even last year, when the Ballon d’Or was not held, Lewandowski defeated Cristiano Ronaldo (37, Manchester United) and Lionel Messi to claim the FIFA Player of the Year award. He also enjoyed the joy of receiving the award for the second year in a row until this year.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who became a hot topic after not being among the three finalists for the first time in 11 years since 2010, received the Achievement Award and drew attention. He was recognized for his contribution to setting a new record in this category by scoring 112 goals in a match last year.
Alexia Putellas (Spain) was selected as FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, and Chelsea’s head coach Thomas Tuchel took the men’s team manager award. The women’s team manager award went to Emma Hayes of the Chelsea Ladies to which Ji So-yeon belongs.
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